Thursday, 20 September 2018

Top Tens: Graham from Goodbye Blue Monday's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Thanks for asking me to do this, Colin. I’m going to avoid listing 10 bands that are blindingly obvious influences (yes, I’m sure we do sound like a Scottish cheap Off With Their Heads). I’ll try to focus more on what helps me write songs/gives me inspiration. Hope that’s alright. Sorry if I ramble. Plus, trigger alert and all that.

1. Punk Rock
I’ve listened to punk, in various forms and styles, for 20 years. From the early days of buying NoFX CDs at Tower Records, making and exchanging comps with mates and buying knock-off shirts outside shows; to downloading mp3s from AudioGalaxy to discover new bands (NoFX didn’t cover ‘I Want You To Want Me’ after all); to downloading full album torrents; to vinyl and Spotify and merch at shows. It’s been the one consistent genre I’ve always listened to. Playing in a punk band (whichever genre we fall into), it’s impossible not to accept how heavily influenced we are by a relatively limited genre. But also, I don’t know of any other genre which prides itself (despite often failing) on a good ethical outlook, stripped of the ambitions and vanity of other bands. Times change and you appreciate certain aspects of the music more, or get completely turned off by other things. My perspective has shifted a lot and some bands I never used to listen to, I now listen to all the time; and some of the bands I used to love, I’d probably consider to be assholes now. But I guess this is growing up. See what I did there? Plus, I can work up so much hatred for other music. As soon as I get a sniff of arrogance, or a whiff of insincerity, I lose my shit. The older I get, the worse it is. I didn’t mind the Chilli Peppers when I was a teen. Now all I hear is fuckin “wizza wazza warn ya, girl in Californya” or some shite like that. I can’t get passed that. Aye, punk though, I like that.

2. Frightened Rabbit
The only band I’m going to mention as a direct influence. I was late to the Frightened Rabbit party. I’d written them off as a folky Biffy Clyro, which was a huge mistake. Someone had recommended them and effectively made me listen to it. Musically they’re great of course, but what clicked was the lyrics. There’s a quiet line in ‘Dead Now’, which just simply states “There’s something wrong with me.” That was it for me. In all sincerity, I doubt I would’ve felt confident enough to write about what was going on in my head without hearing that. I’ll go one step further and say that I sincerely doubt I would have gone to get medical attention for my mental state had I not heard this. That Scott ended his life just cements them for me, as dark as that sounds. The relatable thing isn’t just the blues, it’s the grays, the constant 4/10 days: the life-long passivity and melancholy that can’t be shaken. Scott’s lyrics captured that perfectly and him choosing to end his daily suffering makes so much sense to me.

3. Being Sad
I love a good mope and there’s nothing better than a good sad song. The genre doesn’t even matter. I have a sad playlist on Spotify that I listen to religiously. There’s nothing better than sitting in on a dark cold night, listening to sad music and reading misery-lit. It’s quite fun to do. I laugh at myself just being a sad sack of shit. I try to think of lyrics and things that are quite tongue-in-cheek. Things you hear in sad songs you can pick at and twist. Going from mopey to suicidal. Although there’s genuine despair, I think it’s fun to poke fun at it too.

4. Scottish DIY Punk Scene
Sorry other countries, I don’t know your punk scenes well enough to comment. We played our first show with Make-That-A-Take in Dundee in January 2016. Before that, we’d only played shitty pay to play and free shows sandwiched between ‘the next’ Arctic Monkeys and ‘the next’ Metallica. We were very nervous about how we would go down with da punx and weren’t quite sure if we’d be treated as outsiders. The first thing that struck me was what a great sense of community there was. It was just a social event for people. The other bands were unreal as well. And we got a great reception. Everyone was warm, friendly and caring. And it was the same in Glasgow once we started playing shows with Dammit Presents too. Despite that, I used to have frequent panic attacks when we’d just finished playing. Jack was always good at packing my gear up for me and I would run outside and hide round a corner to calm down. I probably looked rude with my head down, pacing outside, completely ignoring everyone, but no one commented or seemed to care. They just chatted with me when I was done. Always warm and welcoming. Gradually the post-set panic attacks became less frequent and seem to have stopped. This is a testament to the warmth of the scene.

5. Mates
As much as it’s an amazing sense of accomplishment to get a good review, there’s nothing better than your mates telling you that they genuinely like your music or that your new song is class. I think Goodbye Blue Monday is the first band Jack and I have been in that our friends actually like. There are often times I’m writing a wee hook or melody and think so-and-so will love that wee bit there. It’s a great motivation for song writing. There have been times when I’ve sent a demo round to the rest of the band or a mate, and they’ve been like “yeah, it’s alright” and the song gets dropped instantly. What’s the point if you can’t even win over the people who actually like you?

6. Cigarettes
I’m not a smoker. I’m not a smoker. I took up full-time dedicated smoking when I was 30. Jack had come round to my flat to look after me and have some beers when I was a wee bit too suicidal. Long story short, he accidentally left his cigarettes behind when he left. I was having a panic attack and couldn’t grasp onto any form of thought and didn’t know what to do. I smoked a feg out the window and it was the ideal intervention. There really isn’t anything else like it for a panic attack. Apart from the niccy buzz, it was like a sand timer. It gave me purpose and calm. About 3 minutes of slow calm inhaling, literally burning time away. Even my psychiatric team struggled to offer a better alternative. I go through phases of insomnia and I get stuck in my head. I’d just get up, open up the window and smoke a few while starting at Arthur’s Seat and the flashes of a lighthouse. It’s meditative. I find writing songs quite intense, so smoking allows a break, to slow down and think about what I’ve written, rather than ploughing on. I couldn’t write music without it. I smoked way too much since then, and have managed to “stop” and vape instead, but I still enjoy the odd smoke if I’m drinking or going through a rough spot. Plus, I don’t care what anyone else says, the best thing in life is an early morning smoke and a coffee.

7. Self-harm
I haven’t written many songs without self-harming. I’ve done it since I was 9 (at least this is the first time I remember doing it) and I don’t really know how it started. It carried on (“teenage angst”), and on (secret twenties cutting) and continues now. It links so closely to song-writing. When you’re unwell and you have been for a long time, you have the ability to keep a mask on. The self-harm is just a physical expression of the mental state for me. And the songs are a “creative” expression. The two are intrinsically linked.

8. Insomnia
The best lyrics come at night when I can’t sleep and my thoughts start spiraling. I come up with weird scenarios and have the darkest thoughts, most of which morph into lyrics and into songs at some point. The thing is, when it’s 4 in the morning, there’s no escape because there’s nowhere else to go or nothing with which to distract myself. Exhaustion can be a wonderful thing. I also end up coming up with melodies and hooks which is fun. It just plays over and over in my head, until I either forget it or record it. The riff to ‘Pills’ was written at stupid o’clock.

9. Satanism
LaVeyan Satanism. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s helped shaped my outlook on life. The Satanic Bible is about 1/3 genius and 2/3 gibberish. For every on-point philosophical argument there is talk about witches and hexes. Ultimately, it follows the line of “I-theism”: there is no God, you have one life, Satan is the manifestation of human instinct, ergo be a c*nt if you want. It’s absolutely true. When you start thinking about it, you see it everywhere: competitive ambition, egoism, narcissism and self-indulgence (I’m aware of the irony). I completely agree with a lot of that, apart from the last bit. I’ve been writing songs about it. If humanity is inherently selfish by nature, and life is pointless, you can’t justify your own existence, so the only way to be ethical is to kill yourself? Life’s fuckin’ pointless anyway.

10. Suicide
The biggy. The one thing that gets me through life, is knowing that I can quickly end it when I choose to. When things get bad, I have an itch in my veins which feels like an ulcer that I want to tear at. It’s an inevitability and a matter of time to be honest. Everything feels like I’m running out of time to enjoy and do things. It makes me work harder on writing songs and playing music, rather than cowering in a room; it reminds me to appreciate the days when I have clarity; it lowers my tolerance to bullshit so I like what I like and love who I love. I guess it gives my life purpose in a backwards way.


Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. If you're struggling with mental health problems there are people you can talk to. Samaritans is one of a number of fantastic charities set up to help people. Please do not hesitate to seek help if you feel like you need it.

Check out Goodbye Blue Monday on Bandcamp here and like them on Facebook here.

On Sunday 23rd of September Goodbye Blue Monday are playing the New Cross Inn with Triple Sundae, Half Strikes and Batwings. It's going to be a great night, find the details here and come along!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Album Review: Good Friends, Bad Luck by The Run Up

Lately I've become quite convinced that Bristol five piece The Run Up have found a way to stop time. Since releasing their superb debut self titled full length last year, they seem to have been endlessly on tour. To my great surprise, they've also found the time to write and record a brand new EP – set for release on 28th September through Real Ghost Records and Uncle M Music. Named Good Friends, Bad Luck, it's based around a theme of making the best out of bad situations and the strong bonds of friendship that grow due to these predicaments.

Good Friends, Bad Luck starts off with a short instrumental track of the same name. This serves as a great introduction for the EP as it shows off what is now becoming The Run Up's signature sound. It all leads brilliantly into the next song, The Upside Of Being Down. This is the EP's leading song and a fantastic music video was made with The Run Up just having the best time together as great friends. That's what the song is about – getting out and having amazing times with your best friends. The Run Up have this great skill in writing songs that I immediately want to sing along to. This song is catchy enough that it's not long before I'm singing my heart out with lead singer Larry and the rest of the guys in the band. The gang vocal "whoa-ohs" that lead into the song's ending add a bit of atmosphere into the song, making it feel extra emotional and making you believe that the band mean every single one of these words. The third song, Captain, starts off at a great pace with guitarists Charlie and Laurence laying down some great riffs. It's another track that has me wanting to sing along straight away. This might be to do with the superb way that the band make use of gang vocals and harmonies for a big portion of the song. For me,  this type of gruff pop punk is at its very best when the whole band are singing together – I find it allows me to connect to the band a lot quicker.

The fourth track, titled Etherial Ghost, sees The Run Up holding things back slightly musically to allow Larry's vocal to really have centre stage. The song is about the struggles of life in a DIY punk band and trying to play shows and tours around having a normal life and it being great to be able to do it with your best friends. The song puts that kind of life into perspective and does make me think that we perhaps we take for granted the struggles and sacrifices people in bands make to come and entertain us. The fifth and final track on Good Friends, Bad Luck is named Sick Days and is the perfect way to finish the EP. From Daniel and Harry's superb rhythm section, Charlie and Laurence's guitars and Larry's vocals, as well as more brilliant gang vocals and harmonies, the whole track is layered to perfection. I'm constantly hearing little things that I love that I didn't hear on my previous listen. The gang vocals make the song feel huge and it just continues to build and build throughout the song. It feels like it will be a massive sounding song if it were played in a small pub show or at an academy or arena show.

Good Friends, Bad Luck is The Run Up's strongest release to date. It's perhaps their most mature release so far and definitely their most focussed. The band have had some terrible luck on tour this year with broken down vans but have managed to turn all the stress that comes with that into a positive with this absolutely brilliant release. Who knows, if the bad luck hadn't happened would we have got this EP of the year contender?

Pre-order Good Friends, Bad Luck here:

Like The Run Up here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Album Review: Shrug Dealer by Shrug Dealer

I won't lie, I wanted to check out Shrug Dealer purely because of their truly awesome name. The four piece from New York formed this year and recently released their debut self titled EP. Containing six songs in just eleven minutes, the EP promised to be packed with fantastic high tempo punk rock music. Shrug Dealer have the great name but do they have the great songs? Only one way to find out!

The EP opens with a fast melodic hardcore track named Writer's Block. The verses are delivered in a fantastic punchy way which makes energy ooze out of the song and the chorus is so wonderfully catchy you can't help but get swept away with it. The track is about the frustrations of having writer's block and trying to get through the struggle. The song is only just over a minute long but Shrug Dealer do an excellent job of fitting a lot into the song. It's no thrills quality punk rock. Up next is a song named Snowflake Wars. This track is played at a slower tempo than Writer's Block and features some great shredding guitars in a similar style to A Wilhelm Scream or Darko. The song draws you in quickly with some duelling guitar playing before the vocals begin. The song is about those horrible types of people who go out of their way to offend you and wear you down for no reason whatsoever. The vocals on the song are impossible to ignore and are extremely impressive. The third song That's $10 You Owe Me Now, Dickhead has a great introduction. At the start it has you thinking this could be some kind of melodic punk reggae track before the song quickly shifts into the fast paced hardcore song that you would expect from Shrug Dealer. The song looks at the big multinational stores in the USA that are putting the small "mom and pop" stores out of business. It basically says these big chains are not playing fair and are causing a lot of people to lose their income.

The fourth song This Song Written On A Macbook Pro is just twenty-eight seconds long. When I first read the title I guessed it might be an attack on all these modern day performers who make all of their music on a laptop. In fact it's about how throughout the world child labour is used to make many of the products we use and how we don't do enough to deal with this disgusting practice. This short song packs a big punch and really gets you thinking. The penultimate song is named The Lanes. Here we are greeted by the poppier side of Shrug Dealer's sound. It still retains the shredding guitars of the previous songs but also has a bit of a 90s pop punk influence on it that I loved. The energy at the start of the song is infectious and the line in the chorus of "I believe in myself" is simply empowering. The Lanes is about finding a strength in yourself to remain true to who you want to be despite all of the rubbish that can be thrown your way in life. The positivity coming out of the song warms my heart. The EP finishes with the song Who Is Molly? This track has one of those incredible building sections that I completely adore and is worthy of your time just for that. It feels like a final song with its big finish where the band really let loose with some wailing guitars and rawer vocals.

What a great debut EP this is. Shrug Dealer take the melodic hardcore genre and, for me at least, have given it a fresh sound that really allows them to stand out from the rest of the pack. I will be recommending this EP to many of my punk pals.

Stream and download Shrug Dealer here:

Like Shrug Dealer here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Album Review: House On The Hill by Enda McCallan (by Emma Prew)

Enda McCallan is an acoustic folk punk musician from Omagh, Northern Ireland, who is now based in Manchester. It was in Manchester, at Manchester Punk Festival no less, where I first came across his music. I’d arrived to see Arms & Hearts but managed to catch the last couple of songs in Enda’s set and was really impressed – plus I kicked myself for not getting there sooner. On the 15th of September, Enda McCallan released a brand new four track EP titled House On The Hill and produced by Steve Millar (Arms & Hearts). I was keen to give it a listen…

First up on House On The Hill is a song called Cheatin’ Ways. Opening with some soulful electric guitar and a steady drumbeat, I soon realise that this isn’t an acoustic track like I was kind of expecting. Instead this a very much country-tinged rock track – I can imagine it being played from a car driving across America (maybe that’s what the skeleton is doing on the EP artwork). As you can probably guess from the title, this is a story of heartbreak but we don’t just hear from the man in this scenario. Chloe Hawes contributes some fine guest vocals to Cheatin’ Ways and we get to hear both sides of the story. There’s also a great, yet unexpected, guitar solo towards the end enforcing that American feel. December Nights is the second song of the EP and here Enda slows things down a bit – not that the first track was especially upbeat – for a track that is solely acoustic. December Nights feels like quite a sad and personal song. The lyrics speak of admitting where mistakes have been made in your life in the past but also how you can learn from them and try to better yourself in the future. There’s a particular line (‘Are you dreaming of being free tonight?’) that really reminded me of Bruce Springsteen – which is never a bad thing – although it did also make me think that this song could use some harmonica. Towards the very end of the song it suddenly switches to the fuller band sound and even has some backing vocals. Nice!

Irish Eyes was a pleasant surprise because I realised almost immediately that I recognised it. It was a fun song to hear live at MPF and is just as fun to hear the recorded version. It is is more of an upbeat and folky track than the previous two songs, serving as both a head-nodder and foot-stomper, but it also comes with an important message. Irish Eyes is an anti-racist anthem written from the perspective of an Irishman who has seen how many people are reverting back to racist views and ideologies of old. ‘The way I see it, There are no borders, There are no countries, We’re all part of one collective known as the human race.’ Brilliant! I also got my harmonica part that I wanted from the previous song – and then some banjo! The more upbeat pace is retained for the final track of the EP, which is also its title track – House On The Hill. Despite the faster pace this is clearly a sombre yet sincere track full of nostalgia. House On The Hill is a song written in memory of and, I suppose, in celebration of an old, potentially childhood, home and the people who were there with you. ‘…Like an old tattoo your memory fades but it will never truly leave, And I know one day we will meet again…’ It is sad but also a great tribute to somewhere and someone – or multiple someones – who have shaped Enda’s life in one way or another. And a short, sweet but rocking guitar solo ends the EP on a high.

You can stream and download House On The Hill here on Bandcamp and like Enda McCallan here on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Gig Review: Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves at the New Cross Inn 10/9/18

September has already been super busy on the gig front for Emma and I. On Monday the 10th we found ourselves at our fourth in nine days. Back at our home from home, the New Cross Inn in South East London, for a night of punk rock presented by Be Sharp Promotions and headlined by Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves with support for The New Heat, Resuscitators and Katie MF. Being a Monday night it unfortunately it wasn't the best attended punk show of the year but what it lacked in people it more than made up in talent.

First up was Katie MF, who we featured as our Band of the Week earlier in the year. Katie MF are a three piece, fronted by Katie MF. They started out their set with a slower folk number that at times felt kind of bluesy before picking up the tempo and adding some gutsy punk rock to their sound. I assume that Katie started out as a solo act before adding the full band. She picked two supremely talented musicians to back her up, I was so impressed with them as a band. Katie herself was captivating, playing with so much energy and passion during the faster tracks and delivering a really powerful and moving performance during the slower songs. The highlight of their set was the song Mr Cameron, Mr Gove – a song about the terrible state those two men have left our country in. I loved this set and have already recommended to my friends at Be Sharp that they should book them again.

Up next were Resuscitators. I've been following these guys for years now and have loved everything that they've done. Recently they've become a three piece after losing one of their guitar players and I was interested to see how this affected them as a live band. They've also recently finished recording an album so the set promised to be full of new tracks. Starting out with my favourite Resuscitators track Little Victories before moving onto Rivers from their latest single, they really hooked me in and I found myself singing along best I could. From there they moved onto some newer tracks which have me quite excited to hear this new album. Something I've always adored about Resuscitators is their use of multiple vocalists, this gives their skate punk sound even more energy. Guitarist Roger Holland seems to have taken on more vocals on the new material and sounds great. Bassist Matt still does the majority of the singing though and as ever was on top form. This was a fun and energetic performance from Resuscitators. Finishing on the fantastic A Record Of My Own Self Doubt, Resuscitators cemented my opinion on them being one of the most underrated bands in the UK.

We first got the opportunity to see the next band, The New Heat, back at Polite Riot Festival in June. The four piece left a big impression on everyone in the crowd that day and we were looking forward to catching them again. Playing soulful and energetic punk rock similar to The Gaslight Anthem they again set about wowing everyone in the New Cross Inn. They have this great quality in their sound that makes me think it would work well in a big academy venue as well as a smaller venue like the New Cross Inn. Lead singer Nik Holi has a superb voice, it’s equally raspy as it is powerful and really captures the whole room’s attention. They mostly played songs from their EP We Said Our Prayers but also treated us to a brand new song which saw the band spread their wings a bit. Like I said earlier, they have a similar sound to The Gaslight Anthem but for me they play that style with a lot more of a kick than Gaslight and I loved them for this. There was also a nice moment where Katie MF joined the band on stage to provide vocals for one of the tracks. The New Heat are going to very quickly make a big name for themselves amongst the London punk rock scene. Go check them out.

I have to admit I wasn't overly familiar with Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves before the gig but had heard good enough things to make me want to make the two hour journey to New Cross on a Monday night to check them out. I soon discovered the North Carolina based four piece play fast and aggressive gruff punk music. Think Red City Radio or Elway but with raspier vocals and played at a much faster pace. Now not knowing the songs makes the set kind of tricky to review but after every track I thought I need to check this one out again. This was definitely the type of punk rock I love and I really enjoyed their set. The small crowd didn't seem to put a dampener on their performance and, like the best punk rock bands, they put everything they had into the set. Taking the time to banter with the crowd between songs was a nice touch, this included a terribly hilarious joke about shopping malls. Wolves x 4 play the sort of punk rock that I love to sing along with and I imagine it's so good in a small room with a big crowd screaming along to every word. That's what I really wished this show was and it has me wanting to see them again – once I've learnt every word from the record I bought after the show, The Cross And The Switchblade. Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves are a great band who need your attention.

This, as always, was a great night of punk rock down at the New Cross Inn. It was a big shame there weren't a few more folks in attendance but each band killed it anyway and we had a wonderful time.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Top 5 Eat Defeat In Jokes That Were Never Funny To Begin With, Still Aren't Funny, and Are Less Funny Written Down in a Top 5 List

Ask touring bands what their favourite things about tour are and they'll probably lie and say something like 'everything is worth it for those 30/60/90 minutes on stage.' Those people are liars. The best thing about touring are the insane inside jokes you develop due to extended lengths of time spent sat in a confined space with other idiots who have decided this is the best way they can think of to spend their lives. The problem is, when this touring circus rolls into a whole new set of innocent, shielded people, the inside jokes don't exactly translate. So here are 5 classic examples of things that you won't find even remotely amusing.

5. Incessant MOOing
This is what inspired me to write this top 5 as it's something very fresh in my mind and I can recount the exact genesis and propagation of this total nonsense. It was on our most recent tour (as i'm writing this, tour finished yesterday and I'm currently on a ferry to pick up a band from Prague) and it all started with a pot of yoghurt and a few too many coffees. I know, rock n roll lifestyle or what? So we're playing a show at The Fulford Arms in York and we decide to nip out to the nearby Aldi to grab some snacks. As we're perusing the snack section, I'm totally drawn towards an obnoxiously sized personal yoghurt, the brand of which is 'MOO!' I'm feeling a bit nuts after a long day of sitting around drinking coffee and so I loudly announce to the supermarket that I'll be buying the MOOOOOOOOOOOO. This carries on at the checkout, it escalates to innocent shoppers leaving the store and it carries on throughout the van journey home. The next morning, I'm awoken by a video message from Jimmy which is simply him waking his poor sweet dog up by loudly and obnoxiously MOOOOOOOOOing at her. I then spend an entire journey to Glasgow MOOOOOOOOing whenever Jimmy looks like he's about to fall asleep and it goes so far as us encouraging the crowd at the gig later that evening to MOOOOO instead of applaud after every song. Again. I'm not saying it's funny. You shouldn't be laughing. What's wrong with us?

4. #GFY
We've been unfortunate enough over the years to tour in Germany with a ska punk band called La Familia. Terrible, beautiful people. I can't remember how it started, but every single exchange with any member of the band ended with 'go fuck yourself.' They graffiti'd bathroom stalls with poems dedicated to telling us to go fuck ourselves. They wrote a song called GFY. They won't leave us alone. Somehow, someone let them into England earlier in the year and they ended up playing a few shows with various friends of ours. So after the first show I receive a text message from a friend asking 'What did you guys do to upset a band called La Familia? They announced onstage that they hated you and that you should go fuck themselves.' Aachim (lead vocals/bass) was apparently even wearing an Eat Defeat hoodie whilst doing so, so this makes it even better. Anyway, fuck those guys. GFY.

3. The 'Eat Defeat' voice
If you've ever been a member of Eat Defeat or have filled in for us at any point (and quite a lot of people have, I counted 17 in total) then our impression of you is exactly the same. We developed it early on to mock an old guitarist who we kicked out (twice...) and the bullying has continued ever since. It's hard to describe the accent accurately, I think the closest example I can think of is, you know that bit in Spaced where Reece Shearsmith's character is mocking Tim and Mike and he says 'OH, A HADN'T THOUGHT OF THAT', well it's kind of like that. There's been a few awkward incidents in the van when we have guests where they've clearly stated 'So and so doesn't sound like that at all, that's not a very good impression.' To them I say, well, something mean in a silly voice. This one doesn't really translate to print.

2. Dickhead Day
Ugh. I don't know when it started. I think it was pre-Steve, so it's been a few years now. One day of a tour, we just decided we'd be fully horrible to each other. This included (but wasn't limited to) knocking pints out of each others hands, eating each other's food and playful amounts of physical violence. If it was Dickhead Day, anything was ok and nobody could get mad. It was like the purge, but for emotionally stunted adult males. It's become thankfully less frequent, but there were inklings of Dickhead Day being declared when we strangely ended up at the Fifa eWorld Cup on this past tour. It was arranged via Steve's workplace and we decided we'd do our best to show him up by pretending to be various outlandish characters. It was quelled by a rather forceful statement from Steve that 'IT'S NOT DICKHEAD DAY.'

1. The Cheetah Onesies
I think this one was on our last 'proper' UK tour and we were in the apex of our 'We love It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia' phase. There was an episode that season where a gag was that Frank just randomly had 'the spots' and turned up towards the end of the episode as a 'man-cheetah.' Well, before a show at the Birds Nest in Deptford we decided to pay a visit to Lakeside (a big ol' shopping centre in Essex) and whilst in Primani we stumbled across a load of Cheetah onesies that were reduced. We decided it'd be HILARIOUS to buy them and play in them. That night I sweated from places I didn't even know I had. The worst part, though, was that then me and Jimmy decided to fully commit to the onesies, and wore them all tour. Not just onstage, but all day as well. This was like, night one of maybe a 2 week tour. We got some weird looks, but it got weirder when we fully embraced the aesthetic and drew whiskers and a black nose on. In a nice aside, we brought the onesies back for a mainland Euro tour a bit later on, and Jimmy injured himself at a gig in Aachen whilst wearing the onesie, and had to be taken to the Krankenhaus whilst fully dressed as a cheetah. I love tour.


This year Eat Defeat released the pop punk album of the year. Buy it here:

Like Eat Defeat here:

Gig Review: Uniforms at the New Cross Inn 7/9/18

You know those days when you're feeling quite miserable for no actual reason and then something happens that absolutely makes your day? I had one of those a few weeks ago. Like I said I was feeling quite miserable for no actual reason, then I checked my phone and discovered that Dundee's Uniforms had been booked to play the New Cross Inn as part of their tour supporting their superb new EP Reasons To Breathe. I'd been waiting to see Uniforms for years before they played Manchester Punk Festival earlier this year and stole the show. The chance to see them again so soon after had me super excited and I couldn't wait.

Emma and I arrived at the New Cross with plenty of time to see the opening band of the night Modern Shakes. We were lucky enough to catch the London based three piece at Polite Riot Festival earlier in the summer and were really impressed by this new band. They play melodic pop punk music in the vein of bands like Dillinger Four and Banner Pilot. Modern Shakes were so good on this night, I can't wait for them to release their debut EP so I can sing along with these fantastic songs that they've written. Throughout the set Modern Shakes did introduce each song but I've completely forgotten the names and I'm not pro-journalist enough to write important things like that down. The highlight of the set was the penultimate song of their set though, that was a particular banger.

Up next were another new band on the scene - Crushed Veneer. Emma recently reviewed their EP for CPRW and really enjoyed it and from what I've heard of them I was expecting to enjoy their set too. Something I found interesting when they were setting up was how the bass player had his microphone stand set up not facing the crowd but instead slightly further back facing the drum kit. It makes for an interesting visual and allows him more room to bounce around the stage. I guess that's why he does it. Crushed Veneer played with plenty of energy and I particularly enjoyed the faster songs in their set which had some epic three part harmonies. It was clear for all to see how skilled Crushed Veneer are as a band and I'm expecting them to make a bigger and bigger name for themselves throughout the London punk scene.

Break-Ups don't play many shows anymore so I was quite looking forward to seeing them at this show. Unfortunately it turned out their drummer couldn't make the show so what we got instead was perhaps the most unique Break-Ups set ever. Fair play to Luke and Alfie for deciding to play the show as they pretty much winged their set with Luke playing guitar and the duo singing some Break-Ups songs. At times it was a bit haphazard but in truth that really added to the charm of the set. I would have loved to have seen full band Break-Ups but this was a nice little surprise and a lot of fun. Hopefully they'll have another show soon with an actual drummer.

Next it was time for Uniforms to play their first London show in five years and I couldn't have been more excited. I quickly made my way to the front of the stage to get the best possible view, alongside my buddy Tone from The Burnt Tapes, to see one of the UK scene's very best bands. We were treated to a half hour set of old Uniforms favourites as well as some new tracks from Reasons To Breathe. Uniforms’ music is filled with such an infectious energy that you immediately get caught up in their songs and live is truly when they're at their very best. They're a band who put everything they have into their live performance and it's an absolute pleasure to watch. The crowd, which unfortunately wasn't the biggest, were really into it with one chap in particular quite clearly having the time of his life. I was too, just in less of an alcohol influenced way. I enjoyed everything about Uniforms set but the two highlights were Pink Couch and brand new song Get Me Out Of Here which finishes with a great breakdown and this incredible and ferocious finale that works so brilliantly live. Uniforms are the best - thanks for getting back together and coming back down to London.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Top Tens: Matty from Last Edition's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Reel Big Fish
For me, Reel Big Fish was where it all started. I distinctly remember, being at a house party at my best mate's house, around the age of 16(?) - and I heard “Beer” for the first time. I’d been introduced to bands like Madness by my parents, but hearing this for the first time really did spark something.

Many years later, in 2017 - we (Last Edition) got to support them, and I met Aaron for all of 34 seconds. I remember thinking, how do I fit all these years of loving his band into 34 seconds without making him think I have something severely wrong with me?

Mad Caddies
Mad Caddies for me are a similar story to Reel Big Fish. As soon as I heard “Beer” I went on a pretty big ska punk binge and was soon introduced to bands like Mad Caddies. “Drinking For 11” - I must have had that song on repeat for at least 3 years.

Again, in 2017 - we supported them on the Fireball tour. In 2018 also, we played a festival in Scotland called “ButeFest” - which they headlined - and then somehow got a support slot with them 2 days later at Birmingham o2 Academy.

Around the time that I was starting to get into the ska punk genre, it was also around the same time that I had 2 or 3 major operations on my legs (I have a nerve and muscle condition called Charcot Marie Tooth). I found Whitmore on the TV, “Alison” I think it was - probably also on P-Rock! (RIP P-Rock).

Anyway, when I was recovering from my operations, all I would listen to was Funeral for a Friend and Whitmore’s “Smoke The Roach”. (One extreme to the other, right?). Over the last few years we’ve played Robb Blake’s venue (Winchester Gate in Salisbury) a few times - he’s such a lovely guy, but it seems I can’t get him to reform Whitmore!

Alkaline Trio
I actually own more Alkaline Trio music, than I do Reel Big Fish. Before I got into ska - and was in a ska punk band - I used to jam with a couple of guys and generally we thought Alkaline Trio were the absolute dogs bollocks. (I think that band was called Midfield General?!)

Alkaline Trio however are a band I still love as equally as I did when I first heard “Stupid Kid”. A lot of the music I was inspired by and listened to around this time was purely found either on MTV, Kerrang! or P-Rock - or whatever other alternative music television channels there were. I can stick any of their albums on and just let them play without skipping a track. I can’t wait for their new album to come out.

The Flatliners
These were a semi-recent discovery, as in - maybe 5 or 6 years ago. Last Edition had been asked to support them in Leicester, I checked out “Filthy Habits” from Cavalcade and was really impressed. At the time I had that song on a playlist and it stayed there for a while.

Then, another operation, and Cavalcade quickly became the “soundtrack”. The Flatliners are another band that I can listen to without interruption. “Filthy Habits”, “He Was A Jazzman” and “Hang My Head” are all songs I wish I’d written!

NOFX were also around the start of my venture into punk. I’m fairly sure that my first ever “punk” gig was seeing NOFX at Birmingham Carling Academy (a quick search tells me it was May 9th 2004).

I think “The War  On Errorism” was released not long before that? Maybe a year? Me and my best friend had it on repeat most days. I think The Epoxies played that night too, so it must have been fairly close to the release of Rock Against Bush vol 1.

Less Than Jake
No Top 10 list written by a ska kid could be complete without a mention of Less Than Jake. Originally, I probably preferred Reel Big Fish, they were the first “ska punk” band I’d seen live. However, I absolutely fell in love with “Anthem” - I mean I always remember “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” and the earlier “hits” - but I played “Anthem” to death.

I first saw Less Than Jake at Slam Dunk Leeds (they played after Goldfinger and Reel Big Fish, I believe) and I thought they were awesome. I’ve seen them probably 7 or 8 times since then. Their last few releases have been a little hit and miss - "Good Enough” is an absolute banger however.

Kill Lincoln
A fairly recent discovery, and a band that have definitely inspired me and influenced some of our newer tracks. “Good Riddance to Good Advice” is (in my opinion) perfect. Production, songwriting. All bang on.

You’ll notice a trend here. Thrice were also a go-to whilst I was recovering from various operations. I’m happy to admit that, at the time I was suffering - both physically and mentally and in a pretty horrible place generally. “Artist In The Ambulance” is a song that I wish I’d written. I finally, finally got to see them play it live at Download festival this year. I watched in tunnel vision at the stage, I had a lump in my throat for the entire song.

The UK ska scene in general…
Not strictly a band - so apologies if this isn’t allowed - but, we’ve never felt more part of something than we have over the last year. Being asked to play at Level Up really did help us feel as though we are part of the UK ska scene. There are so many awesome bands doing some awesome things - like The Hostiles, Call Me Malcolm, Codename Colin (who we join on tour in October/November). It’s so inspiring and at Level Up we definitely felt an energy that we’d not felt before. It’s nice to see people being excited about ska punk again.

Last Edition are throwing a party this Saturday to celebrate ten years together as a band. Check out the details here. It looks like it's going to be a lot of fun!

Like Last Editon here:

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Album Review: As Long As You're Here by The Hope Hereafter

On a recent Bandcamp discover session, I stumbled across a band named The Hope Hereafter who had just released a brand new four song EP titled As Long As You're Here through Middle-Man Records in Indiana. Other than that The Hope Hereafter consists of two members named Lauren and Shawn, I couldn't find much else about the band but I adored this EP and excitedly broke my 9pm CPRW work curfew to review it.

The first track on the EP is named Twenty Seven Forever. It's this incredible concoction of the best parts of indie and gruff punk with great jangly guitar and massive fist in the air shout alongs. Immediately Shawn's voice feels so strained as he fights to get every word out. The track is about feeling left behind but always remembering the good times with your old friends. Every word is sung with such emotion it makes the song incredibly easy to relate to and it's packed with such passion and energy that you're going along for the ride whether you like it or not. Up next is Tag Me In. This second track remains gruff but adds elements of emo into the song. I feel like these styles shouldn't mesh as well as they do but The Hope Hereafter have managed it. The pace is slightly slower than the opening track. This allows the lyrics to really shine though as the band paint this great picture of getting into a situation too deeply but having the support of your partner to help you out.

The third song on the EP is named Monster. The song is all over the place in the best way possible. There are shifts in tempo throughout the track giving it this brilliant chaotic feeling. The vocals feel at their rawest on this track which adds plenty of emotion. Between all the chaos, Monster contains some lovely guitar parts that keep the song feeling a bit jovial. The song feels positive with it being about having someone who helps improve you as a person, whether it's being patient and appreciating everything you have or simply to stop you running away from life. The final song on As Long As You're Here is titled 'Lil Skyrim. I don't think the song is actually about the game. The track goes along at a high tempo and again has plenty of energy but it's actually quite a sad song. Shawn sings about feeling like you want the earth to swallow you up because you feel like your relationship is ending. Yet again The Hope Hereafter paint such a great picture lyrically you can imagine the story of the song happening in your head.

What a superb EP that really came out of nowhere. I love stumbling across tiny bands like The Hope Hereafter and being completely blown away by their brilliance. This is a band you should be checking out!

Stream and download As Long As You're Here here:

Like The Hope Hereafter here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Album Review: View From The Bottom by The Drowns

The Drowns are a three piece street punk band from Seattle and Los Angeles. They are somewhat of a supergroup as they feature members from bands such as Success, Shell Corporation, Time Again and, a personal favourite of mine, Madcap. They formed in 2017 and this past August they released their debut album View From The Bottom on Bypolar Records and 1984 Records in the US and Gunner Records in Europe.

The ten track album starts with Eternal Debate. Eternal Debate throws a curve ball immediately with a couple of notes on the piano getting the song started before The Drowns quickly switch things up with a huge sing-along opening that leads into an up-tempo street punk banger. Musically the song pounds along at a decent pace, giving the song plenty of energy and the band's lead vocalist delivers the lyrics in a brilliantly passionate way. The Drowns have a bit of a unique sound. Mixing the street punk sound of a band like the Street Dogs with the gruff punk stylings of Red City Radio. Take Me Back follows this and the first thing that struck me is the excellent dual vocals on the song. There is a deeper grumbling style alongside a cleaner, more traditional way of singing. The two voices work together so well, particularly when harmonising. The song's high point comes during the breakdown as we're left with the deeper vocals and a drum beat that leads us nicely into the song's finale. The third track is titled Time Slips. Time Slips has more of a melodic pop punk sound. It had me thinking of Alkaline Trio with the vocals in particular reminding me of Matt Skiba. This is a mid-tempo song about making the most of the time you have together because eventually that time will run out.

Where's Bobby? wastes little time in getting started by launching into its catchy chorus instantly. The song itself is actually quite a sad one as it tells the story of a friend who has relapsed and is back on heroin. Despite the topic of the song, it actually feels quite upbeat and almost like a pop punk song. Kind of like Off With Their Heads. This is one of the stand out songs on View From The Bottom for sure. Faithfully Faithless brings us to the halfway point of the album. The song is about being an atheist and not liking it when religious people try to force their beliefs onto you. Something I'm sure many of us relate to. The dual vocals are back on the track with the softer, cleaner voice taking control of the verse while the gruffer style supplies the chorus. Midway through the song there is a sublime guitar solo that leads into this incredible breakdown that may be my favourite part of the entire album. You should listen to it. The album's title track, View From The Bottom, is up next and the tempo picks up nicely. I really loved this song, it's relentless but jam packed with a delicious melody. The energy in the song is infectious, it's impossible not to get swept away with The Drowns here. It had me wanting to sing along immediately and I'm really hoping a lyric sheet makes an appearance somewhere online soon so that I can quickly learn the words and join in with the Drowns with a gigantic smile upon my bearded face. The seventh song is named Overexposure. This is a softer track that almost falls into folk punk territory. This is another song that is captivating and can't be ignored. The dual vocals on the chorus are a delight and the conversation style between both singers is a big highlight. I always enjoy a one-two punch of multiple vocalists trading off against one another.

Boston Accent is about the pressure of trying to live up to someone else's expectations of how you should live. This is a mid-tempo gruff punk track that goes along pleasantly and has you listening intently throughout. It's a very introspective song as the singer really looks deep into his soul. As seems to be a theme in The Drowns song, things really become big during the breakdown on the song – again this is the moment when things really take off and you know that this is yet another banger of a punk song. The penultimate song is titled I.C.U. This track sees The Drowns soften slightly with the gruff rumbling style of vocals that has dominated much of View From The Bottom vanish. This switch works an absolute treat and gives the album a fresh sound that you perhaps wouldn't expect this deep into the album. This song might just have the best harmonies on the entire album, which is really saying something considering how great the harmonies have been throughout. A song titled Darkness brings View From The Bottom to a close. I think it's always great when an album finishes with a positive message. View From The Bottom does that as Darkness looks at the topic of mental health and reassures the listener that they are not alone. I particularly enjoyed the passionate shout of "the light will come" that appears midway through the song. It's quite subtle but it's such a great touch.

This is some debut album from The Drowns. I'm expecting to see it on many top ten lists come the end of the year. I can't remember the last time I heard a debut record from a new band that impressed me so much. I know these guys have some pedigree from their other bands but, even so, View From The Bottom blew me away. I'm certain it will blow you away as well.

Stream and download View From The Bottom here:

Like The Drowns here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Album Review: Skate Pop Suicide by Watashi Wa Dance Party

The brilliantly named Watashi Wa Dance Party released a brand new EP titled Skate Pop Suicide on Hidden Home Records back in May. The four piece from San Diego formed in 2015 and Skate Pop Suicide is their sixth release already. The band are influenced by Southern California skate punk as well as Japanese punk rock or J-Punk. They seek to combine the two styles to create one of the most eclectic sounds of 2018. They have certainly been ambitious but is Skate Pop Suicide any good?

Skate Pop Suicide begins with the song Daylight. This is a delightful synth heavy power pop track. It's a short one with only four lines worth of lyrics. It's about how when it gets dark life isn't so good and being so happy and relieved to see the daylight again. The song is short and sweet and opens the EP up well. This is followed up by one of the EP's stand out tracks, Mio. It is an upbeat and catchy track. I loved the intricate and jangly guitars that fill the song with such a wonderful charm whilst the vocal delivery gives the track a poppier feel. Mio is an empowering song that encourages you to do what you love even though it might be scary not knowing what is around the corner. The third song on the EP is named Really Over. The first thing that caught my attention on the song is how the tempo seems to increase more and more as the song progresses. This gives a great feeling of urgency and intensity to a song that is about coming to terms with the breakup of a relationship.

Halle is a song where the guitar skills of AJ Peacock and Wade Morris really come to the forefront. Along with some more brilliant intricate and jangly riffs that litter the song, there is a superb guitar solo midway through Halle which really gives the song a big feeling. I'm far from an expert about J-Punk but I imagine this guitar work is influenced by the genre and is encouraging me to check out the scene. Particularly as we're off to Japan soon ourselves! The penultimate song on Skate Pop Suicide is titled Ruminating. I'm a massive ska fan so this was another stand out track. I was kind of reminded of Bomb The Music Industry here as it seems as if there is a chaotic approach to the structure of the song which really keeps the listener on their toes. Ruminating is about over thinking an incident and not being able to get over it. I really enjoyed the ska side of Watashi Wa Dance Party's sound and I hope they do more of this in the future. The EP is concluded with the song My Lava Lamp. This track is a huge contrast to Ruminating and in fact every other song on Skate Pop Suicide. This song has a much darker sound than I've come to expect. It's angsty and the inclusion of more synths give the song a nostalgic 80s feel amongst the crunching guitars. My Lava Lamp finishes the EP of with a bang.

Skate Pop Suicide is a fun little EP. Hidden Home Records have a gem on their hands here as Watashi Wa Dance Party are a brilliant and unique band that could easily grab the attention of many fans of punk rock.

Stream and download Skate Pop Suicide here:

Like Watashi Wa Dance Party:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Gig Review: Camp Cope at The Dome, London 4/9/18 (by Emma Prew)

It’s always exciting when a band from outside of UK makes their debut on our little island. You know the anticipation is especially high when a DIY tour is booked and the London date – Boston Music Room – sells out within a couple of hours, then gets upgraded to a larger (also DIY) venue – The Dome – which also sells out crazily fast. That’s exactly what happened with Australian indie-punk trio Camp Cope. Thankfully we knew about the gig and got tickets in time. This was going to be a special night!

Joining Camp Cope at The Dome and opening the show were London’s own Fresh. I’ve seen Fresh live a couple of times but it had been well over a year since the last time – and in a much smaller venue, on a smaller stage. In that time they’ve released their debut album and more recently a brand new 7 inch. I must admit I hadn’t listened to their recorded stuff all that much but I was so impressed by their performance at the Dome – especially those harmonies. The foursome seemed wonderfully comfortable on stage as well as looking like they were just having the best time playing together. Even a broken bass strap didn’t phase the band – they just carried on playing the song, with bassist George patching the strap up with gaffer tape between songs. Standout tracks included Get Bent and Fuck My Life, from their debut album, and I really liked the new songs they played from their soon-to-be-recorded second album as well. What a great start to the night.

I thought it had been a while since I’d seen Fresh but next up were Caves, a band that I hadn’t seen live for four years. Understandably, because of this, I was very much looking forward to seeing them on this tour. I’m please to say that the trio haven’t lost it! All the raw energy and intensity that I recalled from seeing them live in the past was very much still there. The dynamic between guitarist, Lou, and bassist, Minty, is just a joy to watch. They were joined by Bob Barrett, of too many other bands to list (someone, maybe me, should make one of those Rock Family Trees of all the bands Bob has played in), on drums who has played with them on their last couple of tours and fits in perfectly. Highlights of their set for me had to be the tracks from their 2013 album Betterment, particularly the singalong-inducing I Don’t Care. Lou has one of the best voices of the UK punk scene for sure. Caves were on board for the whole UK and European tour with Camp Cope and Lou expressed just how happy they were to have the band finally playing over on this side of the world – and how important Camp Cope are for the scene. I believe that.

The Dome had been reasonably well packed out for the two support bands but now it was looking like a sold out venue for sure and anticipation levels had reached their peak. It was no mean feat for Camp Cope to sell out a venue the size of The Dome on their UK debut and finally the wait was over as Georgia, Kelly and Sarah took to the stage. As a familiar bass riff opened their first song, we soon realised that the first song of their set was in fact not a Camp Cope song – it was Warning by Green Day. (Side note: Warning, the album, is my favourite by Green Day. And what?!) It was certainly a surprise but it was also an excellent cover. Or at least a cover up until the first verse when the trio switched into their own song, Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams – arguably one of their most popular songs – from their debut album. It felt pretty bold to play one of their biggest ‘hits’ so early on but the song was greeted with such a wonderful crowd reaction that there’s no denying it paid off. The Dome audience was enthusiastic with its singing and you could tell how special it was for so many people to be able to see Camp Cope live for the first time. It was special for the band too and Georgia humbly expressed just how grateful they were to be there – not only to be in London and the UK in general but to have sold out such a large venue. The band’s set was perhaps a reasonably short one – less than 10 songs – but tracks such as How To Socialise & Make Friends, The Face Of God, UFO Lighter and Lost (Season One) sounded brilliant in a live setting. Camp Cope’s songs are more thought-provoking and powerful than particularly upbeat or lively but that just made watching the threesome all the more engaging to watch on stage. Georgia also had plenty of stories to tell in between songs that were both informative and humorous. It made her seem very down-to-earth and like there was no barrier (physically or mentally) between the crowd and the stage – just how a punk show should feel. Unfortunately the end of their set soon came around but Camp Cope finished with a bang. Ironically named as a set closer, The Opener received the biggest reaction from the audience – myself included – with a huge and passionate singalong reverberating around The Dome from start to finish. I’d heard of Camp Cope before they released The Opener last year but it was listening to the song for the first time that really made me perk up and pay attention to this band. The subjects Camp Cope speak of are so, so important. We knew it when listening to the band and we knew it when watching the band play live, it’s time more people did too.

‘It's another man telling us we can't fill up the room, It's another man telling us to book a smaller venue, “Nah, hey, c’mon girls we're only thinking about you”, Well, see how far we've come not listening to you.’

This gig review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Gig Review: Fireball's Hottest Bands Final at the Islington Academy 2/9/18

Battle of the band competitions are a bit of a taboo subject in the DIY punk community. I, like the vast majority of people I know, go along with the thought process that music is not a competition and should not be treated as such. That said, I can completely understand why bands would enter them when they have the chance to earn an opportunity to play a show with legendary bands such as Flogging Molly, The Bronx and Face To Face. Those three bands are taking part in this year's Fireball tour and a handful of other bands from all over the UK. In London, bands from Bournemouth, Bristol and London were vying for the chance to open the show in their towns. When the show was first announced my initial thoughts were "Urgh, a battle of the bands. Boo. Bad." but after inspecting the line-up I decided to pop along, not to support the competition but to support some of the great up and coming bands in the UK.

To encourage people to get to the Islington Academy to see all the bands playing the show, the set times were drawn at random and announced an hour before doors. The band tasked with opening the show were local pop punks The Famous Class. Each band were allowed to play just three songs. This meant that The Famous Class tried to pull out all the stops with a hugely energetic set as the members bounced around the stage. At some point two massive balloons were thrown into the crowd by two gentleman dressed as beer bottles and during the final track a chap dressed in a wedding dress came on stage and downed some beer. It was all a bit random but it was good fun.

Sinful Maggie were up next representing Bournemouth. I knew absolutely nothing about Sinful Maggie before this gig and kind of assumed they would be a folk punk band. I was kind of right as there were traces of folk music but it was intertwined with some fantastic street punk music. Three songs wasn't quite enough for me as I found myself wanting more when the band finished their set. They played hard and fast and had some great music to sing along and get "shitfaced" too. Not me, obviously, but if you're into that kind of thing then you'll love Sinful Maggie.

Another band representing Bournemouth were the six piece Black Water County. Before the event got under way it was obvious that there were a lot of people in Islington to support Black Water County as there must have been about thirty people, at least, wearing one of their t-shirts. I was wearing my Run Up shirt and felt very much like I was at an away football match. This did kind of bring a competition element to the night which I wasn't a big fan of but Black Water County are an incredible live act. Putting everything they had into their three song set, the band had their passionate group of fans getting quite rowdy and having a good old mosh and a touch of crowd surfing. Of all the bands on the bill that I hadn't seen before, Black Water County definitely left the biggest impression.

Waco are one of the hottest bands in the London scene and have carved out a reputation for being a fantastic live act. It's been a couple of years since I last saw the four piece and since then they have put out a couple of new releases so I wasn't completely familiar with their new stuff. Lead singer Jak is so charismatic on stage it's hard to take your eyes off him as he gets the crowd in the palm of his hand. Waco are a band that are all about positivity and bettering yourself. I enjoyed the short poem that Jak recited before the band began their final song, Agitation – a song I do know and absolutely love. This short set had me wanting to check out Waco's newer stuff and to see them again soon.

The first of the two bands (unfortunately the third, These Five Years, had to pull out) aiming to get a place at the Bristol show were Mick O'Toole. I remember reviewing the band back in 2015 after the release of 1665 Pitchfork Rebellion and was looking forward to seeing the five piece live for the very first time. My first thoughts were how much more punk sounding they were from what I remembered from my review. This spirited folk punk performance caught the attention of much of the crowd who happily clapped along and shouted "oi!" with the band. Mick O'Toole are a fine band and I was happy to finally see them.

Death By Shotgun offered something a bit different to the rest of the bands playing the show. The young four piece play an emo pop punk style and they really impressed. They were really tight as a band and their acoustic guitar wielding frontman was an absolute star in the making. He had my attention immediately with his superb vocals and energetic presence. They took the opportunity to play an unreleased track from their upcoming EP Good Times / Sad Times which I thought was a really brave move. The band could have easily picked an older song that people might know but went for the unknown and clearly drew some admirers in the process.

The Run Up were the band on the bill I was most looking forward to seeing. It was actually my fourth time seeing them this year and they never disappoint. The Run Up are one of the hardest working bands in the DIY punk scene in the UK, seemingly always on tour somewhere and genuinely lovely guys so I was stoked to see them get this opportunity. Like Death By Shotgun before them, The Run Up took the opportunity to play a new song, The Upside Of Being Down to start their set. It sounded so great live. Then lead singer Larry announced that the next song, WKND, was about how competition and corporations are not what the punk scene is about. They then finished up with Sink or Swallow and I had a good sing-along to a superb song. The Run Up are one of the best bands in the UK at the moment, they have a new EP on the way that you should keep your eyes peeled for.

Last up were Kingston Upon Thames' finest, The Lagan. I know that the running order for the night was drawn at random but I couldn't think of a better band to finish the night. The long running band played a glorious three song set. They had people dancing and singing along and just generally having a fantastic time. Even if you don't know The Lagan, it's impossible not to get drawn into their own take on folk punk. The Lagan have been going for a while now and are so tight on stage, they mesh all their different instruments together wonderfully and put on a such a fun show. Same Shite Different Night is one of my favourite songs from the entire folk punk genre. Up The Lagan!

After The Lagan finished their set the audience were treated to a set from Haggard Cat while the judges went off to decide on the winners. This however didn't matter to me. All eight bands who played the night were winners and all are really deserving of your attention. The UK scene is thriving at the moment and I had a great night out seeing some of the best that it has to offer. The concept of battle of the bands sucks but the concept of seeing eight wonderful bands play together is fantastic.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Top Ten: “Belgian beers every touring band should get wasted on while touring Belgium” – A Bearded Punk Records Guide

Would you go and play in Italy and not drink any Italian wines? Would you go on tour to Japan and eat at McDonalds? I’ll kindly answer that question for you… No, you wouldn’t. Or at least, you shouldn’t!

Hi, my name is Bjorn and I’m the owner of record label Bearded Punk Records. For those of you who’ve never heard of us before, we’re stationed in Belgium. So what else would I talk about other than… no, not waffles… nope, not chocolate… not our fries, but the thing us Belgians are most proud of: our vast array of mouthwatering BEERS.

Since we started the label in 2015, we’ve hosted quite a large number of shows for touring international bands and I have let them crash at my humble abode. All of those people were awesome house guests, but there’s only one thing that broke my heart time and time again… And that’s when they asked for Heineken, Beck’s or any other crappy non-Belgian beer.

That’s why I’ve decided to write down my personal top 10 “Belgian beers every touring band should get wasted on while touring Belgium”. Keep in mind that I’m not responsible for any future hangovers and/or motorway puke stops. Drink responsibly, folks! ’Cause those Belgian beers will knock you over before you know it. And please, don’t ever drinks any of these beers from the bottle! They all have their very own custom glasses.

Alright, here goes!

1. Duvel
Duvel is a natural blonde beer with a subtle bitterness, a refined flavour, a distinctive hop character and it’s my all-time favourite. It’s famous for its typical way of being served as it is slowly poured into a tulip glass, which forms a small “tornado” under the white foam. Do not drink that foam, though!

Alcohol percentage: 8,5%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 3–4

2. Bush
The Bush Ambrée is flushed with a bitter-sweet taste, and a pleasing consistency, courtesy, in part, of its balanced caramel malts. Those malts also introduce a strong streak of roasted nuts, adding to this beer's stand-out flavour. The only Bush that doesn’t disappoint!

Alcohol percentage: 12%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 2

3. Klokke Roeland
This a clear dark amber brew with fine-grained white foam in the Delirium Tremens snifter. It has a serious candy flavour, balanced by the scratchy yeast and dry finish. It has hints of lemon drops and dried pears. Bands that will stay over in the future should definitely ask me for this beer, but there’s no guarantee I’ll have it in the fridge at all times, because it’s rather exclusive.

Alcohol percentage: 11,5%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 2

4. Kasteelbier Rouge
The aroma and colour of this one screams cherry beer. The flavour of the sweet cherries dominates the malt of the dark beer, though it is in the background lending hints of chocolate, and a little soft hop bitterness. But watch out, ’cause these are some mean-ass cherries!

Alcohol percentage: 11,5%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 2

5. Westmalle Tripel
Westmalle Tripel is a complex ale with a fruity aroma and a nice nuanced hop scent. It is soft and creamy in the mouth, with a bitter touch carried by the fruity aroma. An exceptional ale, with a great deal of finesse and elegance, and with a splendid long after taste.

Alcohol percentage: 9,5%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 3–4

6. Chimay Bleue (Blue)
This is a beer whose fragrance of fresh yeast with a light, flowery rosy touch is especially pleasant. Its flavour, noticed when tasting it, only accentuates the pleasant sensations perceived in the aroma, while revealing a light but pleasant touch of roasted malt.

Alcohol percentage: 9%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 4

7. Rochefort 10
Dark colour, full and very impressive taste. Strong plum, raisin, and blackcurrant palate.

Alcohol percentage: 11,3%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 2–3

8. Sint Bernardus Abt 12
Bernardus Abt is a dark beer with a full, ivory-coloured head. It has a fruity aroma, full of complex flavours and excels because of its long bittersweet finish with a hoppy bite. The taste of this beer resembles that of Westvleteren, which was awarded the title of best beer in the world a number of times!

Alcohol percentage: 10%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 3–4

9. Tripel Karmeliet
This beer has not only the lightness and freshness of wheat, but also the creaminess of oats together with a spicy lemony almost quinine dryness. Tripel Karmeliet is served in a beautiful glass, which makes it a really nice drinking experience!

Alcohol percentage: 8,4%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 3–5

10. La chouffe N’ice
La Chouffe’s winter edition is a strong, brown beer that will warm you in the depths of winter. Spicy (thyme and curaçao) and tinged with hops, this is a very balanced beer. In my opinion it beats the flavour of its sister beers La Chouffe Classic and Mc Chouffe.

Alcohol percentage: 10%
Estimated amount until shitfaced: 3–4

Check out Bearded Punk Records here:

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Album Review: Séance! Séance! by The Hempsteadys

The Hempsteadys are an eleven (yup, you read that right) piece ska band from New London, Connecticut. Influenced by acts such as Desmond Dekker, Prince Buster, The Clash, Mephiskapheles and of course, coming from the Connecticut area, Spring Heeled Jack, The Hempsteadys released a new album at the beginning of August. Titled Séance! Séance!, the album features eleven songs that take traditional ska music and adds a modern sound to it. After reading a description of the band on Dying Scene ("If you like old school ska, boy have we found a gem for you! The vocals are gritty and add just enough ‘punk essence’ to keep it from being reggae. The horns (and specifically the saxophone) are all incredible. If it’s one thing we think we need more of in punk music these days, it’s more saxophone."), I was very keen to check out The Hempsteadys and Séance! Séance!

Things begin with a song titled Still Life Woodpecker. Musically there is so much going on in the song, it sounds as if all eleven members of the band are contributing in a big way. The Hempsteadys use their many vocalists to great effect when it comes to gang vocals, particularly in the chorus where the gang trades lines with the band's lead singer and in the song's finale which just grows bigger and bigger. Compass is an up-tempo song that adds some punk to the modern ska sound. The Hempsteadys' brass section is the star of the show for the first half of the track, perfectly accompanying those gritty vocals. There was a nice surprise towards the end of the song when out of nowhere a drum and percussion breakdown happens that leads towards the song's ending. This was so unexpected that I had to check that we hadn't just moved onto another song. The third song, When Dead Are Undead, is an instrumental track featuring a very special guest in the form of Bim Skala Bim's Vinny Noble on trombone.

Classic Cars from the outset gives you the impression that the song is going to have a huge chorus thanks to some exquisite brass playing. This is a slower and more chilled out track. It kind of makes me think of a barroom rock song (with horns) that will have a whole room singing along to the chorus as loudly as possible. The song's ending cements the opinion that The Hempsteadys are eleven musicians who are at the absolute top of their game on this album. The long outro – just wows. Temple Of Boom is another instrumental track that is lead wonderfully by Shaun Burgandy's bass guitar. It provides a great platform for the song for the rest of the band to work from. Rudy Comes From The Streets is an upbeat foot stomper that is impossible not to dance to, sing-along with and just have a jolly good time whilst listening to. This high energy number, for me, is when The Hempsteadys are at their very best. This is the first time on Séance! Séance! that the keyboards really come to the forefront of the song and, if I'm not mistaken, I also heard some piano and theremin on the song. The seventh song, Ghost Of Joe Strummer, begins with an acoustic guitar and harmonica, this really brings the tempo down after the high tempo and upbeat nature of the previous song. I do question the placement of the song on the album but, as a standalone track, it's superb. After the slow intro, the song gradually moves into a brief foray into a ska-country song before settling into some dirty reggae.

Dangerous continues with the slower tempo. Interestingly the song sticks with the same simple riff throughout the track's duration. Occasionally a key change is teased but never happens. It has you thinking that soon things will pick up and Dangerous will explode into life but it never happens. This song feels quite retrospective as The Hempsteadys' lead singer sings about not having much in the world but he does have love. The Moon Laughs Knowingly has me thinking of a cross between The Slackers and The Aggrolites, taking a more traditional ska style and adding those great dirty and gritty vocals to the sound. It's the horns that steal the spotlight though, injecting a little bit of energy into a fairly chilled out song. The penultimate song on Séance! Séance! is titled The Well. The Well is a track about the unbreakable bond of friendship and knowing that whatever happens in your life you will always have that great group of friends to have your back. Séance! Séance! finishes with the five minute long Box Fan. This feels like an album closer. There's so much going on throughout the song and it has this amazing build towards its ending. It almost feels like all the different sections of the band decide to do their own thing and it all eventually blends beautifully into one big and fantastic finale.

2018 has been a massive year for ska music. Before this release I wasn't familiar with The Hempsteadys but I am very impressed. Séance! Séance! could be a surprise choice for the ska album of the year and should please fans of all areas of the genre. I'm hoping The Hempsteadys can somehow find their way to London soon so I can experience them live.

Stream and download Séance! Séance! here:

Like The Hempsteadys here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.