An Interview With…Cults

By Sean Hannah (@Shun_Handsome)

Having risen to prominence at the turn of the decade with the success of their first single Go Outside, CultsMadeline Follin and Brian Oblivion are now veritable Indie Pop legends. The duo released their third album Offering at the beginning of October and have touring steadily ever since. I caught up with the pair before a show in Des Moines, Iowa, where we discussed the merits and pitfalls of working with both major and minor record labels, the ostensible egalitarianism of New York City, and the changes in the music landscape since the band’s conception, among other topics.

How’s the tour been?

Madeline: It’s been really fun. We haven’t been on tour in… two or three years. [We’ve still been] playing shows, but they were one-off, like we’d fly out to Chicago and fly home the next day. So we never got to get in the swing of playing the songs every night and just getting comfortable… it’s like having it be second nature, to be onstage performing, so it’s been really fun.

Brian: And it’s awesome that you create this stuff in such a vacuum, especially because 90% of the time it’s just the two of us jamming, and then to go see hundreds of people singing the songs it’s like “Damn! I guess this was all worth it! This is working, great!”

Madeline: Yeah, we were saying like, the first few shows, it’s always weird because… you play the first show the day your record comes out and it’s like, “Ooooh, what’s going on?”

Brian: Yeah, nobody knows the songs yet.

Madeline: Nobody knows the songs, everybody’s just listening, and in the past week it’s been really cool to see people singing along and [learning] what songs people are reacting to the best.

In your Reddit AMA you wrote that you wanted Offering to sound more hopeful. What do you mean by that?

Brian: We talked about… just the fact that we were feeling more upbeat. A lot of the songs are kind of a dialogue. It switches from ‘I’ to ‘you’ and it’s like [taking] another perspective. In a way, a lot of it was talking to ourselves, because so much of the time off for us between those records was reflecting and figuring out who we are as people and how we fit in with our friends and our community and the world. And most of the songs there’s kind of a switch between maybe someone who feels really desperate and then someone coming in saying, “No, no do it this way, it’s gonna be all right.” And I think that’s how we felt about our previous selves when we were writing this, like “Oh, we’re writing this and we’re having so much fun and we can see it now a little bit.” I think that just comes with age and with experience. It’s hard to find a happy 23 year old, but 27, 28…

Madeline: “I’m all right, I’m all right!”

For Offering you moved from Columbia Records to Sinderlyn—what differences have you noticed between the labels?

Madeline: Well one of the biggest differences is that we know every single person who works at the label and I don’t think they’ll be going anywhere any time soon because everybody is invested in the label.

Brian: It’s more of a family.

Madeline: As far as Columbia, there were… I don’t even know how many [people] work at Sony. You’d walk into the building and they’re like, “This is the person who… counts your Twitter followers.”

Brian: That was the main reason we split up with them, because when we signed with them, we did it because the people that we worked with there we really liked and we thought they were amazing and then they’re all so amazing they went on to go work at other places and suddenly we looked around and we had never met anyone that we worked with.

Madeline: Especially on our second record, people were showing up—we played Letterman and they were like, “This is your publicist.”

Brian: “Oh, nice to meet you!”

Madeline: [Before that] our publicist was our best friend… we met through signing the deal [with Columbia], but she was at our family functions, we just got along that well. So yeah, we just didn’t know anybody and we were all in it together on the first record and on the second record we were like, “Wait, what?”

Brian: And then we met Mike Sniper from Sinderlyn, and it’s like… it’s such a unique refreshing thing to have the guy who owns your label be a musician himself. Nobody at Columbia had ever been in a van for more than three days just with the band that they were repping. And he knows so much about what’s difficult and what you can do… he just [gave us] so much moral support from actually being a real music fan. I talk to so many people in the music business about everything BUT music. It’s really rare that you meet someone and they say, “Oh, you gotta hear this song you’ll love it!” It’s more like, “These guys are selling a lot of tickets!” But these people love music and that’s huge for us because that’s what we’re all about.

I think that the job of a record label, the whole function of a record label, our record label’s probably ten people and there are huge labels with a hundred people that are cool, probably. And there are cool labels with six people that are awful and there’s so much grey area in between what we call “indie” and what we call “major” and in that are a lot of people who are good and bad and shades of all in between. I think stratifying that stuff is weird and now it seems like that stratification is totally gone, like LCD’s on Columbia and Grizzly Bear’s on RCA. I’m not sure [whether] that word is as relevant as it used to be, but we just found the people that we like to work with.

Madeline: That’s always been our main thing.

Brian: No creeps!

Madeline: They’re basically planning your whole year for you so you want to know that that person understands you and actually cares about your life.

In an old interview with Pitchfork you described touring as fun, but also depressing. This was toward the end of one of your first major tours, so how do you feel about the touring process these days?

Madeline: I feel like it’s… I love it. I’ve been having a great time. Obviously, you miss your family and your friends and your bed, but you’ve got Facetime now!

Brian: You also learn your own limits. In the very beginning we didn’t know that we could say no to things. So it would be like, “Oh, you’re going to drive eight hours in the morning and then you’re gonna go do this fashion show” and we’re like, we’d say OK and then…

Madeline: Which we kind of started doing in the beginning of this tour and then we were like, “That’s not humanly possible.”

Brian: Or like, “I’m losing my voice, so I’m sorry, we’re gonna reschedule, but we’ll come back.” You prioritize your own physical [wellbeing], but also mental health is a huge thing. And people understand. A lot of the time people will try to make it seem like they won’t understand—

Madeline: And if they don’t, fuck ‘em!

After your self-titled debut became this kind of runaway success, did you find it unnerving to follow it up with Static and Offering or did it spur you on?

Madeline: I don’t feel like we’ve ever thought about it that way.

Brian: We’re trying to reinvent the wheel every time. I go to this restaurant in the East Village and our music is on some playlist that comes on all the time. And seriously, when I hear it, I feel like the speakers are broken. I’m like “Oh my god, is that what that record sounds like? It’s so crazy sounding!” And I love it because it’s so weird and it was such a strange record of us having no idea what we’re doing and just throwing everything at the wall.

Madeline: But I think if we were to come out with something that sounded like that today, people would think their speakers were broken.

Brian: It was just a weird pocket of time and we were just lucky to have started at a time when really amateur, lo-fi stuff was accepted by a mainstream kind of audience. Because that’s literally the best we could do, like we weren’t trying to make it lo-fi. That was it. And we learned so much over the years about getting better at songwriting and production and we’re just trying to do what we think is cool in the moment.

 

You’ve said in the past that you hope to live in New York forever. What is it about the city that you find so compelling or attractive?

Madeline: Well, my family’s there and I like being able to get anything that I need at any time of the day. Like, I’m hungry at 2 in the morning I can walk down the street alone and not feel afraid because there’s twenty other people doing the same thing. I don’t know, I just love the city. I feel like I’d get restless [living somewhere else].

Brian: My favorite thing about New York is that as much as it is one of the most stratified and expensive places in the world, it’s also the most diverse. You can go to a bar and sit down next to some of our good friends who’ll tell me they have $13 in their bank account and you’ll be sitting down next to another guy who might be a billionaire and everyone looks the same and kind of talks the same and just… interacts. And when we’re touring around it’s like… you go through different parts of the city and it’s like, this doesn’t feel like America. I just think there’s a blend of like, nobody’s impressed by anybody in NY. It’s very egalitarian. It’s like Seinfeld. And compared to somewhere like LA and the places in CA where we group up, that social status thing doesn’t really exist there and it’s super relaxing.

Madeline: And walking and never having to drive: major plus.

In what ways has living in the city influenced your sound?

Brian: Having to do it in an apartment!

Madeline: You can hear ambulances, people honking.

Brian: Because I think a lot of the move from band-oriented to electronic music is because the technology has gotten better and cheaper and also because the studios haven’t. So we’ll just sit at each other’s houses and write songs on a laptop and a little tiny interface and that’s all we need, that’s pretty much all we did, just with some keyboards and stuff. And having to be quiet really influences the sounds you pick and the way that you fill things out. If we had an awesome rehearsal space… and just play[ed] and jam[med] together it would probably sound way different.

Madeline: We’d be a jam band [laughs].

Brian: We try to fill [the songs] up and that’s something I see with almost everyone I know who makes music in NY and even LA too. They don’t have a dedicated space to go play so they do things one track at a time and that makes for a different process and a different kind of music.

You don’t sound like a lot of the bands typically associated with this NYC indie/alternative scene like LCD Soundsystem, the Strokes, Animal Collective, etc. Was it a conscious effort on your part to go against the grain like that?

Brian: I feel like all those bands sound different from each other.

Madeline: And also we don’t… I don’t feel like we ever sit down and say, “We want to sound like this band.”

Brian: Only when we’re trying to diss each other. I’ll come in with a song and our producer Shane will say “I love this, it kind of sounds like Toad and the Wet Sprocket [sic].” But I think that’s one thing that I get sad about. I mean there are some bands that we’ve been playing with over the years like Real Estate, Tennis that I feel a kinship with musically, but we’ve kind of always been drifting in our own space.

Madeline: I feel like we don’t fit in any [genre]… [But] you look at our Spotify and it says, “They sound like Sleigh Bells and Best Coast!”

Brian: We always get compared to Sleigh Bells and Phantogram and Chairlift, and if those bands all had male singers they [would be] drastically different sounding. You’ve got 80s pop, you’ve got shredding guitars, you’ve got ripping beats and night life drug music and we’re like, slamming on a glockenspiel. None of those are similar except for the fact that it’s a man and a woman making music.

Madeline: All of our “Spotify Similar Artists” are gender-based, which makes no sense. Just because there’s a male and a female in the band, like is it different if there’s two females?

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Genre classifications and comparisons aside, there’s definitely a kind of Sunshine Pop element to your music; was that informed by the fact that you both hail from California originally?

Brian: I think it was just the music that we connected on initially and also just that we burned through before we started this band. I feel like we spent our youth listening to, like, Sonic Youth and the Ramones and a lot of heavier music, so when we started thinking about what we wanted to make, we said we kind of did it in high school. So we would listen to a lot of 60s and 50s music and we were like, “What do we love about this?” And we just felt really inspired and it felt new and we kind of just tried to carry that vibe through each record and just listen to music and think: what are the threads that we’re feeling? What’s inspiring right now? For this record I had never heard the Cocteau Twins, sadly, or never really listened to Pink Floyd or the Motels. And there was a lot of this kind of 80s power pop vibe that I was just discovering a whole world of that I was blown away by. And then you hear something you love and it’s like, “Let’s go play!” So every record’s a little different.

As a group who gained so much exposure and popularity by initially putting your music online for free, what are your thoughts on the way the music landscape has changed since Cults formed?

Madeline: I think the only way to get your music heard is to put it out for free. Because we have friends who have bands that are trying to get big and [are charging] for their music. And you’re like, “Why am I gonna pay for this?!”

Brian: I get really personally frustrated because I feel like a lot of the sites that… a lot of the people who’ve helped us go from nothing to a real band are now just writing about Miley Cyrus and Beyonce and TV shows, and a lot of music sites have become popular culture sites. We’re really good friends with… the guys from Whitney and they’re like the only band that I’ve seen in the last three years go from nothing to playing huge venues and doing stuff and everyone listening and it’s really hard I think to start now because it’s like America, it’s all the 1%. I mean, I’m not saying Beyonce’s records aren’t amazing because they are, but if they’re considered in the same light, the same arena as people who are making music in their bedrooms, it’s a very difficult competition. There are maybe sixty people who work on those records and they’re all amazingly talented and it doesn’t feel like there’s as much space anymore for someone who just wrote a great song and recorded it by themselves and just wants to share it with people. It’s a tougher landscape for sure.

You both were attending art school before leaving to focus on Cults. Do you do anything artistically outside of music?

Brian: [Madeline] tried to learn how to use Photoshop.

Madeline: I was just Youtube-ing tutorials, when we were working on the record, I’m like, “What should I Photoshop?” And he’s like, “Photoshop Gary Busey in a snow globe on Mars!”

Brian: She does so many different collaborations and we already have writing time scheduled for after this tour’s over. I just did a movie and sometimes I mix and produce stuff, but it’s just music 100% of the time. I’ve never felt good at anything else.

Madeline: I bought a sewing machine during the time between records, didn’t touch it.

Brian: I’m always really impressed by people that can do all these different things, but for me, doing this is hard enough.

Madeline: And when I have free time, I just… want to work on music. I’m not drawn to the sewing or the Photoshop.

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You’ve performed with Freddie Gibbs, you’ve been sampled by J. Cole, and you’ve even described your own songwriting process similarly to a hip hop producer’s. Would you say you feel a certain kinship with the genre of rap?

Brian: Yeah, we’re all big fans… We had a song sampled by Cam’ron, which blew my mind. We’re really friendly to all that stuff and we think it’s super cool when people reinterpret our music.

Madeline: If anyone wants to sample we’re normally… I think we’ve only turned down one.

Brian: Or two.

Can you say who?

Madeline: Let’s not…

Brian: It’s sad actually, because they worked on a whole song and then [they] realize [they can’t release it]… We’re very precious about our music because we’re always trying to create something that’s just on the edge of kitsch. From the very beginning we were hoping this whole band would be like that record you found in the back and you pulled it out and you put it on and you’re like “Oh my god, this is actually really cool!” So if someone tries to push it over the edge, it’s the same as if someone tries to advertise—we don’t do many advertisements because… “Go Outside” has probably been requested by every outdoor apparel retailer.

Madeline: Although we do have an Australian milk commercial. I found on Youtube somebody posted something and it was a couple girls and they said “Us getting ready to the milk song!” And it was “Go Outside,” so I’m like, “In Australia we’re just the milk song!”

Brian: But while a lot of the sentiments in our songs are really kind of obvious and kitschy, they’re meaningful to us and we’re always trying to put that layer underneath there to… that we need to keep sacred for ourselves, so sometimes we don’t let people use them.

You’ll be touring with Christopher Owens shortly, is that right?

Madeline: He’s doing all of our California shows. We hung out with him, we recorded a lot of this record in Berkeley.

Brian: He’s like the last musician left in San Francisco. Everybody left, but it’s so good that he’s still there. We did a song together (which will maybe come out one day for the record), and it was awesome. He’s such a cool guy and he has that new band called Curls, so we said, “Do you want to play some shows?”

Madeline: I listened to—

Brian: She cried.

Madeline: [Owens] came into the studio and played [one of his new songs], because Shane, who works with us, is also working with him and I was listening to it and I actually started crying.

Brian: He’d seen that reaction before [laughs].

Madeline: I love it, I think he’s so good. I was a huge Girls fan and I’m a huge Christopher Owens fan so it’s super exciting to be on tour with him.

Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

Brian: No, we’re just happy to be playing the great state of Iowa for the very first time. I can’t believe it took us this long. We played Alaska, how did we miss here?

Madeline: We played South Dakota!

Brian: It’s true. I think the last ones are Arkansas and North Dakota, but darn it, we’ll get ‘em all!

 

Zoe Graham Interview: Songs, Suspicions & Success

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
Photos courtesy of Mairi McAnena (@mairii_)

It could be said that it was coincidental that I found myself going to the Hillhead Book Club to chat with Zoe Graham. Situated on a street that is mobbed by students every day, the establishment perfectly blends in with its surrounding and leaves its surprises till you pass its doors: random trinkets adorn the walls, peculiar tables decorated with board games are pretty much the norm and if the ping pong tables nestled upstairs aren’t in use then there’s something not quite right.

Zoe channels this vibe as well – our first encounter came at the EP launch of another Glasgow act Pests, opening the night with a charming performance that left the impression that she had achieved the same standard of her other influences, most notably the likes of KT Tunstall. Playing well and being a conventional artist on stage, it was an odd but interesting choice of topic that ignited a conversation; wapping out her phone, she began to talk to us about conspiracies, specifical one about the Denver Airport, describing its unnerving artwork found there in an all too entrancing way. To misquote Louis Theroux, I wasn’t sure what I had just seen but I know I didn’t want to leave.

This ability to convey an image with words alone is something that Zoe transmits through her music. A song that hadn’t left my mind from when I had last saw her live was Anniesland Lights and hearing the conception of it from the woman herself only resulted in a deeper admiration of it. “It’s more a symbolic track than a hometown anthem: it’s a break-up song from the viewpoint of an ex’s flat that overlooks a tower whose lights would soothe her whenever she felt nervous or anxious. It makes for a relaxing song despite the background of it“. 

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This kind of emotional layering, allowing for her songs to take on more roles than just a weepy emotional tune, is something that comes naturally to Zoe but it hasn’t happened overnight. She’s been doing this for years, constantly working on her craft in whatever way possible, whether that be pursuing a course to help improve her songwriting abilities or making some personal changes like involving her self more in the songs (which is in stark contrast to her debut 2014 EP which was from the perspective of random characters). It leads to me being given this impression that the musician in front of me is one that is organically working away as opposed to artificially donning the clothes that are in fashion.

This naturalness was something that Zoe showed throughout our chat: whether it was her comedic digs at hashtag culture, at one point stating something wasn’t #relatable, or her up-frontness about certain things that annoy her in the industry, she’s inspired but she’s not trying to be anyone other than herself. It’s no surprise then that when it came to her first ever gig, being comfortable was what made it one of her favourite performances to date: oddly enough, it happened to take place at a bowling club near Jordanhill which she remembers fondly but was open to mocking her wardrobe – “I had my high tops and flannel, it was *very* fashionable”.

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She’s got so many gigs under her belt and is very appreciative of the opportunities she’s been given: when asked about diversity, Zoe falls into the camp that there are a lot of talented women in the Glasgow music scene but that the opportunities aren’t as plentiful. “It’s not unusual for me to be the only female act on the setlist and for an audience to go ‘oh shit’ when they see a girl onstage but it’s not like there isn’t enough diversity in Glasgow, it’s just not getting to show“. This kind of awareness is refreshing especially with certain Glasgow festivals feeling saturated in certain genres and demographics, Zoe using her own tour dates to display some other up and coming acts to get the girl power going.

These tour dates are two upcoming performances that’ll prove to be the catalysts for the future of Zoe’s career; promoting her Hacket and Knackered EP, she’ll be playing The Royal Dick and The Hug & Pint in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively. Talking about the importance of this, she contrasted the state of her older work to her new stuff: “When it came to handing my first EP over to folk I would apologise before they even opened their mouth. There’s been a real therapeutic side to my more recent musical efforts which I think is what makes me feel all the more nervous about sharing it considering I’ve put so much of myself into it“. Having been years in the making, it can be assured that what we’ll end up hearing will be at the very least polished and personal.

As our conversation comes to an end, I start to recap what we’ve chatted about in my head and realise a natural transition: much like Zoe’s career, there’s been a gradual comfort to what we’ve been discussing and it’s allowed for her to be more open about not only about her music but just music in general. Many musicians are hesitant to discuss anything out with their bubble, afraid to poke any raw nerves or worse, but Zoe has shown just how much of herself she has put into her career, so much so that Zoe the musician and Zoe the real life gal are the same person as opposed to the usual exaggeration of one’s self. Much like the 

Much like the place we’ve spent the past few hours chatting in, Zoe’s personality has flown through. Come the release of her debut EP, they’ll more than likely be a few novelty items in the form of songs to feed our appetite.

Zoe Graham: Twitter + Facebook

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Woes & The Future of Scottish Pop Punk

By Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc)

The uprising has begun. Gathering UK wide attention and supporting the biggest band in the scene, Woes are the front men for this new breed of Scottish pop-punk.

Before their massive opening spot on Neck Deep’s Peace and the Panic tour, I was sitting in a tour van, drinking cheap vodka with two of the members of Edinburgh band Woes. I sat down with the guys and we had a chat about all things pop-punk and where they fall into the grand scale of things.

The guys have achieved so much in the past year and have almost created a scene within the country. Their self titled EP has done wonders, and with latest single Losing Time circulating around fans of the genre, they are only set to rise.

With the new EP set to be released very soon (the band assure me) they are undoubtedly looking to progress further. Singer DJ speaks very openly about this, with an almost go big or go home attitude towards it.

“We can’t stay the same, we have to move forward. If we aren’t moving forward there is no point.  To pretend that anything other than a move up the ladder would be considered anything other than a disappointment, well that’s just a lie”

It’s no lie that the pop-punk scene in Scotland is rubbish. Yet, there are always packed out crowds of thousands of fans at gigs. What is the reason for this? Sean (bass, vocals) speaks on this, saying there is a lack of bands in the country, which leads onto a lack of competition. The lack of pop-punk bands in Scotland is shocking. Many fans wouldn’t even be able to name one band from the country, and this is a huge problem. The genre itself is something huge in Scotland, and a favourite of many fans of the alt-scene (myself included).

“Competition is never a bad thing, it means bands are always trying to be the best in the local scene, something I feel Scotland lacks”

But the future of our scene looks hopeful, especially with Woes leading the way. They talk about the future very positively, and see a bright future ahead. They hope for more bands, and more fans to jump on the bandwagon, and say all that is needed is a number one album from heavyweights Neck Deep to set the UK scene alight. With the band being the opener for the biggest band in the UK scene, it looks hopeful for Scotland as well and the atmosphere during the bands immense set in the O2 Academy was just proof.

The scene in general is at an ultimate high. Bands are playing the biggest shows they ever have. Lots of small bands are gaining fans all over the world and listens for the genre are through the roof. We are in what DJ described to us as a “resurgence” moment for the genre.

“We had the resurgence in 2006 with the likes of Four Year Strong and that’s when we picked up again. There was a small break but now we are at a good point. Bands like The Story So Far and Real Friends lead the way, even Neck Deep have played a huge role in re-popularising the genre”

When asked about how it was getting noticed, both members again had slightly differing opinions. The band have worked heavily with producer Seb Barlow (Neck Deep, Roam) and recorded their first EP with him. With him being the brother of the biggest name in UK Pop Punk, Ben Barlow (Neck Deep) it’s obviously been a huge helping for the band, as DJ explained.

“I feel if it wasn’t for us going down to England and working with Seb and getting his support and support from the Neck Deep guys, we wouldn’t be on this tour and wouldn’t be doing this well”

And with the band being from Scotland, we have already covered how rubbish the scene is up here. But can you really blame not being noticed on your location? Sean thinks not.

“We as a band have worked really fucking hard to be where we are. The time and effort we put in is unreal, and yeah we have received help and given unreal opportunities. But would we have gotten these by not working hard? Absolutely not, I believe that”

With the band on the Neck Deep tour and an EP round the corner they, truly doing great things for our amazing scene. They can capture a crowd and their unique live show is enough to grab the attention of any pop-punk fan. I mean, who doesn’t love a cover of All Star at a gig? Be sure to jump on the Woes band wagon early, you will 100% regret not in the future.

Milestones Interview: “It’s been a pretty surreal experience for us”

By Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc)

UK pop punkers Milestones have been on fire since the release of their debut EP, Equal Measures. Having gigged up and down the country, the band have not slowed down since the release, even touring across the USA. Recently, I got the chance to interview member Andrew Procter (vocals, guitar) about gig opportunities they have had and the state of the UK scene.

 

gregoratlantic: Has there been a particularly good gig you guys have played in Glasgow? Or Scotland in general? And why are they so memorable?

Drew: One of the best shows we’ve played in Scotland was in Glasgow earlier this year opening for With Confidence at King Tut’s. We’ve played in Scotland nearly every tour we’ve been on since the start of the band but that show was the most memorable for me just because of how packed the room was and how loud the crowd were for us.

gregoratlantic: Obviously, the UK Scene is at an all-time high right now guys! Is there any bands you guys are absolutely digging right now?

Drew: That’s a difficult one just with how many great albums have been/are being released recently. I’d have to say Roam, Boston Manor, Holding Absence and Neck Deep to name a few.

 

 

gregoratlantic: How does it feel to be able to tour the UK, and call this whole rock band thing your job?

Drew: It’s been a pretty surreal experience for us, especially earlier this year when everyone in the band left their jobs to fully commit to the band. We recorded our album in January then started what was 4 months straight of touring and we were on the road until about mid-June. Going from doing short runs around the UK to seeing Europe, America and then back to the UK was definitely one of coolest things we’ve done individually and as a band.

 

The band are recording their debut album right now, assuring us it will be out early 2018. Thanks to the band for the interview, and we can only wish them good luck for all their future work.


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Fangclub Interview: “Glasgow is a home away from home”

By Gregor Farquharson (@Gregoratlantic)

There’s no doubt that live ability plays a key part in how good a band are and Irish garage rockers Fangclub are absolutely no exception to this. The three piece act, consisting of Dara Coleman, Kevin Keane, and Steven King, recently released their debut album and have since embarked on their first ever UK tour.

The album has done wonders for the band, helping them to rack up over 100,000 listeners on their Spotify, and leading the band onto bigger and better shows. I caught up with the band before their first gig of the tour in Glasgow’s Stereo and asked them some questions about the crazy year they’ve had, and their thoughts on what their first ever headline gig in the Scottish musical haven was like.

Opening the show with Inside Joke, the fans knew from the get go they were in for a treat tonight. The track roared through the tiny venue, and the band’s rough, gritty guitar and vocals made the show feel more intimate than it already was. Going straight into a new song off the album Better To Forget, it was clear the band love playing the new songs, and seeing how well the crowd were reacting to them. It’s no lie that most of the crowd at tonight’s gig had heard of the band through local boys Twin Atlantic, as they supported them at the Barras three times at the end of 2016.

Dara: Well, that place it’s my favourite [venue]. Pretty much loaded in on the first day, we were there for three nights and it was just like our circus home. We were just running around the back corridors and getting lost on the stairwells and stuff and just seeing the posters of the people who have played there through the years.

It was nuts, and it’s just such an aesthetically beautiful building. It was insane, and it was pretty cool, cos it’s like a 50’s kinda ballroom vibe and then there was us, Pulled Apart By Horses and Twin just kinda like playing to all the crazy twin fans.

Tearing through the set, it was always obvious the band loved the city, and it was clear the city loved the band. Tracks like Lightning and Bad Words absolutely went off, and it was great to finally hear the band’s new tracks live, as they hadn’t played to us since the tour with Twin

A real highlight of the set was Role Models. Steven gave the song a long introduction talking about how the song is about that time that everyone has where you have to let it all out, and the band certainly did that. Powering through the garage rock track, the band were loving it up on stage.

Kevin: You guys are rowdy as fuck. Well it’s kinda like cos we are from Ireland, it’s kinda the same vibe as we get

D: Yeah we have the same roots.

K: Yeah it’s like a home away from home really. We did king tuts last year in September, and the crowd there were just, well, insane. There are two lads actually coming tonight that I’m friends with since the king tuts gig and i met them after the show and just got chatting away with them. You just meet so many new people in this city, it’s great.

Closing the set with the fan favourite Bullet Head the gig was finished with the same passion and ferocity we had seen throughout. Getting into the crowd with his guitar, the smile on Steven’s face said it all about what tonight meant to him. Sending the Glasgow fans away happy, the band went crazy on the final song. 

Steven: So like now we can build our fans and the crowd. Like before we were playing to other bands fans so now we can start to build the crowds and do our own stuff. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. From the start  we were just like no matter what we wanted to start the tour here in Glasgow, we actually got here last night so yeah, we just wanted to be here really bad.

It’s clear the gig was so much more than a debut headline, it was the beginning of something for the band. A sign that perhaps, they might have made it in this ever growing industry.

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Wolf Alice interview: “This is the angriest we’ve ever sounded”

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

You bore me, you bore me to death” screams singer and guitarist Ellie Rowsell on Wolf Alice’s comeback track Yuk Foo, the world’s first taste of new music by the band since their 2015 debut My Love Is Cool. Blowing up seemingly overnight, the band toured extensively but are back with what’s set to be their most personal record to date with Visions Of A Life. With it set to drop later next month, we chatted to Theo Ellis (bass, synths, vocals) about what we can expect from the new LP as well as the string of intimate shows they have planned for it.

Blinkclyro: Many bands seem to falter on their second album, something people call the Sophomore curse – does that worry you?

Theo Ellis: The thing we were most nervous about on this album was our personal expectations that we had on ourselves and other external factors. We looked to see what we had achieved on our first album and what we could do to improve as musicians and songwriters. When we got it to a place where we looked back at it and collectively felt proud of it as a band then the worries stop.

Blinkclyro: The two singles that have been shown off show two sides of a coin emotion wise, is that something you sought out to do intentionally?

Theo Ellis: Definitely, we’re always trying to push and show more sides of ourselves. I suppose with the lyrical content, specifically on Yuk Foo, it’s a very angry song, the angriest we’ve ever sounded. It’s a way to vent when you’re most pissed off and want to shout. Our producer was who helped us reach that really raw point – when we wanted to be aggressive or, like on Don’t Delete The Kisses, very delicate then Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Paramore, M83, Blood Orange) would help us with that. 

Blinkclyro: Over the past year or so yourself and the band have been more politically active, especially with the rise of Corbyn. Is this something that’s bound to infiltrate your music and how was the reaction?

Theo Ellis: Nah, I wouldn’t say it has infiltrated our music at all. So far, with this record and our debut, we’ve not really written anything outwards in terms of social commentary or chatting about things that are happening. We just started to engage a bit more on our platform after Brexit happened since it made a lot of people realise what bad shit can happen when you don’t use your voice. The older you get, the more you start to define who you are as a person and what you stand for. There were definitely more positive people echoing our message than there were negative comments though there definitely were some. It seemed to be mainly older people, mainly men, who were saying we should keep our mouths shut and stick to the music.

Blinkclyro: You’ve got a line of intimate gigs planned, is there anything that fans should expect?

Theo Ellis: Some new songs (laughs). Nah, that’ll be the most noticeable thing but it will be a very high octane show that we’re gonna be very proud, playing some of the stuff off the new record and some of the older songs. It’ll be a fun opportunity to play in venues that we don’t really get the chance to play in anymore: expect music, bad banter and some larger if you want.

 

Blinkclyro: Despite being quite a fresh act, how did it feel to appear on the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack, a film series known for its iconic music?

Theo Ellis: That was insane man, the way it came about was crazy: I fell asleep and when I woke up my girlfriend was watching the trailer, I was like “sick!” when Silk popped up instantly. As soon as it was out I had about one hundred emails! The first film has such an iconic soundtrack and managed to sum up 90’s culture with all those bands so to be included in a modern incarnation was a real compliment.

Blinkclyro: Not only did you get to have one of your songs appear in a film but you also wrote some original music for the reboot of Ghostbusters – what was the experience like?

Theo Ellis: We hadn’t seen any footage, they just gave us the script of a scene to write to so we all went away, came up with our versions and the returned to collaborate on it. It never ended up getting used actually, it was meant to be a song that played on the radio but they ended up cutting it so fuck them (laughs). Nah but it was really cool to collaborate on anything creative, especially as we’re all big fans of cinema, and it broadens those creative horizons. Scoring something like that is something I’d definitely want to do again.

 

 

Visions Of A Life is set to be released on September 29th via Dirty Hit.


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A CHAT WITH…REMO DRIVE

By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)

Running off the success of their smashing debut album Greatest Hits and positive reviews from critics such as Anthony FantanoRemo Drive has already become one of 2017’s breakout bands. Fusing indie with punk, emo, and a touch of shoegaze and post-hardcore; Remo Drive’s unique sound, creative visuals, and genuine social media presence has already earned them a promising fanbase. They have already locked in spots opening for big emo acts like Sorority Noise and Jeff Rosenstock as well. I got a chance to chat with the great guys at Remo Drive to learn more about the debut album and what’s next for the Minneapolis punks.

Ryan: What was the recording process for Greatest Hits like? Any reason for the name choice?

Erik: It was pretty relaxed. We pretty much just set up our stuff in our parent’s house and slowly but surely chipped away at it. As for the title, we just thought it was funny- particularly for our debut full length

Ryan: Is there any music you guys were listening to while recording Greatest Hits that influenced the record?

Erik: We were listening to all sorts of stuff! Michael Jackson‘s Off The Wall inspired us to do the aux percussion. Jeff Rosenstock‘s We Cool helped us pick our mix engineer.

 

Ryan: Erik, you’ve done some recording for Minneapolis bands like Inconsistent in the past. Do you see yourself recording/mastering more upcoming bands in the future?

Erik: I used to do a lot of recording around Minneapolis. I would like to continue with that but not to the same extent that I used to. I’m more interested in working on my own music lately.

Ryan: Who does the designing for the merch? 

Erik: Dayton Griggs!

RD

Ryan: You guys have been getting picked to open for bigger emo acts like Sorority Noise and Jeff Rosenstock recently. What has that been like? Any tours as headliners or as a supporting act coming up in the future?

Erik: It’s been awesome! We’ve been very fortunate to have a great booking team behind us hooking us up with bands like that! Nothing I can say much about headlines slots or such yet but people can expect to see us sometime this year.

Ryan: Have any of you been in a band before Remo Drive? How did you all meet?

Erik: Stephen and I played together in a band called Kind of Incredible in early high school. We were terrible. Sam and Stephen played in a band called Q The Clique. Sam also played in a group called Blatant Youth.

Ryan: Do you guys plan on signing to a label soon?

Erik: Nope, we want to see exactly how big we can do things on our own.

Remo Drive’s Greatest Hits is out now: check out our review of their debut LP to wash away any doubts.


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A CHAT WITH…HONEYBLOOD

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Originally conducted in March 2017

Following up the massive success of their sophomore record Babes Never Die, Scottish rock duo Honeyblood are set to continue their ‘the bigger the better’ mantra with their largest UK tour to date. Performing at least five times in Scotland alone, not including their 6Music appearance, the band will kick-start it all off in Australia of all places, traveling via Asia before they start the UK leg in Ireland. We chatted to Stina Tweedale as she talked us through what it’s like to be in one of the best up and coming bands in the UK.

BLINKCLYRO: So you’re going to be performing in the 6music festival later this year: is it still a lot to take in being included amongst home-grown juggernauts like Belle and Sebastian?
 

Stina: Of course! It’s an absolute honour to fill in that slot since there are so many acts that they could have chosen from. 6Music have always been great for championing new music so it’s so nice to be asked and especially since it’s taking place in Glasgow.
BLINKCLYRO: Honeyblood has been around since 2012 which is quite a milestone: are there any plans to celebrate the fifth birthday?
Stina: Wow! I hadn’t even thought of that to be honest, five years my goodness. It’s almost been since our very first gig was in April though we probably won’t since we tend to just celebrate the anniversary for Cat’s first gig which is in September. We celebrated it about two years ago and got her some presents, embarrassed her a little bit!

BLINKCLYRO: Babes Never Die came out last year to a very warm reception, how are you feeling about it post release?

Stina: Good, it’s nice to have it out since we had been working on it for a year and then once it was all done we were kind of just sitting on it. It’s always nerve-wracking to release an album, especially when following up the first one I’d say so it’s a relief to see people are into it as much as they were our debut.

BLINKCLYRO: Is there a song in particular, either from the new album or your debut that you’re particularly proud of?
Stina: Off the last album definitely Babes as it’s very personal to myself and I’m glad that it’s been so well received. Cat (Drummer) and I both felt that Love Is A Disease is one off the album that really shows a real a shift in songwriting and demonstrates the band developing. For me, those are the ones that are notable achievements in our eyes.

BLINKCLYRO: Obviously both yourself and Cat are women in a female only duo, do you feel like festivals are doing enough to represent women in their line-ups or is it still an issue?

Stina: Yeah I think there’s been an improvement, especially since the band started back in 2012. We don’t really tend to present ourselves a female duo but it definitely is something that I’m aware of. I can only see the world through the eyes of a woman so all the issues and inequalities that are present in the music industry really do vex me.

BLINKCLYRO: Linking onto that, you’ve both performed at T in The Park prior to the festival announcing its cancellation for 2017, how are you feeling about that as well as TRNSMT replacing?
Stina: Yeah, we’re not playing TRNSMT as far as we know sadly and probably won’t be but TRNSMT is definitely something that needs to happen. It’s a natural evolution to T In The Park so it can only be a good thing!
BLINKCLYRO: You utilise social media very well: do you feel like this is a necessity nowadays with the age of the internet?
Stina: Yeah definitely! No matter who you are, even if you’re a band who don’t use social media at all, you’re still benefiting from the tools. People will hear about those acts for not using social media and they’ll find it unusual but it still gets them interested. It’s especially great for bands like ourselves, an indie label act to generate our business so we can talk to fans, venue organisers and what not.


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INTERVIEW: Matt Kean (Bring Me The Horizon)

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Bring Me the Horizon may very well be one of, if not the biggest rock band the UK has to offer at the moment. The very definition of a big deal, the Sheffield band has become top tier festival performers. 2015 was undeniably the biggest year for Sheffield band Bring Me The Horizon, in no small part to their latest album That’s The Spirit which reached number two in the UK album charts after they ditched their old metalcore sound for a less aggressive rock approach. After a dramatic change to the band’s dynamic on 2013 album Sempiternal, this alteration to appeal to a wider group of music fans was inevitable and has ultimately paid off with arguably the best album of their career.

Not wanting to be an act that derails the hype train they’re currently running, Bring Me the Horizon announced a huge UK arena tour for 2016, including a show at none other than Glasgow’s very own SSE Hydro! The six-date stint that kicks off at Nottingham Capital FM Arena will reach the Scottish venue on the 9th of November as the band’s final performance for the tour. I caught up with their bassist Matt Kean to find out how they plan on dazzling the Glasgow crowd come next month and how they plan on tackling the transition from sweaty, small venue shows to a big arena performance.

 You’ve got an upcoming date at the Hydro playing a sold out show in front of thousands of fans: have you, from your experience, found playing in Scotland much different than playing back down south?

It’s always been quite good for us up in Glasgow. We first played up there back around 11 years ago, a really long time ago, and we’ve gone up through all the venues, starting off at King Tuts and gigging at pretty much every other place there. The Scottish crowd is always crazy as well!

Now, you were up here last year, starring at the O2 Academy alongside Mallory Knox. You’ve upgraded to a bigger venue now (Hydro can hold 13,000 people which is more than 5 times the amount than O2 Academy can hold): how do you plan on dealing with that transition come November?

The shows are a little bit different obviously. I think that with the smaller shows, especially when they’re really busy and packed out, it’s much easier to make them intense but in the arenas you have to make sure that you’re connecting with everyone there, even the folk who are sitting down. Oli is really good at getting the crowd involved and getting them moving about, hyping them up: it’s definitely a lot more work but worth it nonetheless.

Your fan base is pretty diverse due to the different sounds the band has explored over your 12 year spanning career. There’ll be those in the crowd who have been there since the metal core days of old and your more rock focused efforts like with the recent LP: do you find this difficult and if so, how’d you plan on balancing the set-list accordingly?

On this tour we’re doing the longest set list we’ve ever done because we obviously want to give people their money’s worth and of course, you try to please everyone the best you can. We’re a little bit selfish when it comes to the setlists though so we’ll no doubt put in what we enjoy playing the most as you do. You’d think it would be a bit harsh to do that but if those are the songs you want to play then, of course, you’re gonna do that rather than trawl through a song you don’t really enjoy playing as much.

You’ve got Don Bronco supporting you on this tour: do you get on quite well and are you looking forward to travelling around the UK with one another?

Yeah yeah! They’re on the same management as us and before we even toured with them, we had met at other gigs and award shows and all sorts of stuff like that. When it came to picking support acts for the tour, we were kind of thinking of bands and that who are easy to tour with and who we get on well with: you don’t want anyone with you that’s gonna be a dickhead!

Lastly, 2016’s been a pretty great year for music with David Bowie, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, Biffy Clyro and more all dropping albums: what records have been on repeat for you?

Ah *sigh* now that you mention it I’ve not really been listening to that much new stuff *laughs*. There’ve been two bands recently that I’ve been listening to a lot of, the first being Fjord. There a Canadian duo who I’ve had on quite a bit but they’ve only got an EP out at the moment: really chilled out, electronic music. The Japanese House have been on quite a bit as well, they’re on tour around the same time as us so unfortunately I’m gonna miss out on seeing them. Was really looking forward to seeing them.

You can catch Bring Me The Horizon at the Hydro come November 9th. The show is sold out so be on the lookout for second-hand tickets going around Facebook +Twitter: don’t feed the touts! It’ll be a gig you don’t want to miss.

~

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AN INTERVIEW WITH: Maxdmyz

Having toured extensively and released multiple LPS over the past few years, London based act Maxdmyz talk about their tales on the road as well as influences and their weird mish mash of genres that help to keep the band’s creative juices flowing.

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Can you tell us how your band first came together, and what that whole process was like for you? 

Jay (drums): Well, it didn’t quite happen like that – Twister’s the only remaining founding member – I’ve been with the band a good while now –  Vortex, Roger and A’Zedd joined a year or two ago. When I joined, I was at a creative loose end after leaving a long-term project – I was really into drum ‘n’ bass and hip-hop as well as black metal, techno and loads of other stuff. Teaming up with Twister was an experiment – a happy one as it turned out.

What sets your band apart from anyone else? 

A’Zedd: Every band is unique by definition. If you’re asking what makes us different – all I can tell you is what makes me want to be in the band. It’s just how good the songs are – simple as that – and I think every musician in the band lives and breathes the music – it’s the honesty and energy of the performance and the playing. And there’s a kind of weird but powerful charisma in everything we do.

How has the sound of your band grown since you first started out? 

Roger (guitar): When I first joined, I listened pretty much to everything in the repertoire and was knocked out by the range of musical styles Maxdmyz has embraced over the years – although always to one degree or another dark, heavy and hard – from electro influenced ambient metal to heavy rock and some really experimental stuff.

What does it take to be on top of your instrument/vocals, and can you tell us a bit about your practice routine as a musician? 

Twister (vocalsI): I’m a trained vocal teacher, and it really helps to understand how the voice actually works.  So I do daily routines to try to keep my voice in top condition – I don’t smoke and barely drink, stay trim and exercise – meditate and warm-up before rehearsal and gigs – it all has an impact. I wanna be able to have the choice to sound like Lemmy but not have to, if you know what I mean.

Can you tell us about the current equipment you use?

A’Zedd: Sansamp DI bass driver, Galien Krueger head, Hartke 4 x 10 cab, big muff bass overdrive, boss pedal effects, Music Man 5-string, D’Addario strings.

Vortex: Novation Mininova, Emu Xboard61, Korg X5.

Roger: Sansamp, TC electronic G major, Engel power amp and Marshall 4× 12 1960 cabinet.

Jay: Mapex kit, Zildjian and Sabian cymbals and raw fucking drummer power.

Twister: Shure SM7B for recording.

How long does it take to find that perfect set up? Or is it just a constant work in progress?

Vortex (keyboards): We’re all established musicians so we pretty much know how to get what we’re going for – having said that, I think all of us are open to ideas, messing around with new gear, and always working to refine our sound.

Alternatively, what’s the most rewarding part about being in a band, and why? 

Jay: It’s the most amazing thing in the world, just to have had the luck of being born with talent and then having the chance to play with other great musicians. If it ever gets tough, I never get despondent – I remember talking to a mate of mine who had a really high-paying job and a nice house and everything like that – I didn’t have a pot to piss in at the time, and he said to me that he’d give it all away in a minute just to be able to sing or play a musical instrument – it’s something money can’t buy.

What can you tell us about your latest release, and why should our readers check it out? 

A’Zedd: We’re between releases right now – we’re currently working on a new EP, provisionally titled, Alchemical Metal, with a full album out in the spring. The last album was The Hate Plane, and the single off it was called Grieve – you can check that on our Bandcamp page and Youtube. If you like heavy music, melody, brutal beats, groove and aggression, then – yeah – you should check it out.

What do you want this release to do for the representation of your band? 

Roger: Enhance our  reputation as writers and musicians – we’re not one of those bands who want only to appeal to a small clique or be a cult band – we want to appeal to as many as possible – and we hope the next batch of songs are going to do this – I don’t care who connects with our music as long as they do.

Touring wise, can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road since you started out? 

Twister: Coming back from a gig in New York, painted entirely red and wearing only a denim jacket and rubber trousers – oh, and boots. They tried to pull me out of the queue – I hadn’t slept for three days and gave them a piece of my mind – as if dressed like that I was going to be dumb enough to  carry anything through customs. And, speaking of rubber trousers, and it might have been the same pair – but I was on stage once and they snagged on a mike stand or something – well, they fell off during the show – by the end, I was basically wearing a rubber G-string – it was a pure accident – but people thought it had somehow been staged – hilarious!

What do you like to do on the road to pass the time? 

Vortex: Golf and being kind to animals. No, seriously, drinking, sleeping and fornication – that’s it. And listening to whichever band member it is complaining about having to drive.

Where would you really like to tour the most in the world, and why? 

Jay: India. I heard the other day that somebody walked a thousand miles to Calcutta to watch Iron Maiden play – now that’s dedication. The audiences are incredibly enthusiastic – and the scene sounds so fresh. It’d be nice to have some more of that!

What bands have really influenced you over the years, and why? 

A’Zedd: Miles Davis – because of he’s both subtle and complex.

Roger: The Beatles, because of their mastery of harmony and melody.

Jay: Nile, because of their raw aggression and technical excellence.

Twister: The Doors, because of their insanity and mystery.

Vortex: The Velvet Underground, just because.

What does it take to maintain a healthy relationship within a band? 

A’Zedd: No idea – tell me when you find out.

Twister: What’s a healthy relationship? OK – fine. Mutual respect, kindness, compassion, honest.

Where do you see your band in five years time? 

Roger: I don’t know where we will be – but I can say where we would like to be – better, bigger, stronger.

What does the rest of 2016 hold for your band?

Vortex: We’re looking forward to finishing the EP and playing in France in October. You can find all our dates and stuff at our website.

Maxdymz

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