Interview: Conformist

54-46 Caught up with Conformist  last week, who has produced in our opinion, one of the most exciting and innovative albums to come out of Wales this year, ‘Paid To Fake It’.

Innovative, mesmerising and most of all challenging – this record is a fantastic piece of ingenuity that is deservedly the recipient of lots of praise. All of us here are really looking forward to his next release which is on the horizon for the beginning of 2015.

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First of all, wow. Where do we begin? Did you have fun making this album?

Not sure if “fun” would be the word….!  It was like one long therapy
session.  There was occasional moments of relief when I would stumble into a
decent idea….in between the computer crashes, software failures and data lose
setbacks.  This was a record I made at home over the course of about 3 years
but some of the tracks were written 8 years or so back.  Towards the end I
just wanted to finish it and move on really.  When you’re not restricted by
studio time budgets you can be your own worst enemy.

For people who may just be getting to grips with your tunes – how would you
best describe your music?
Atari Teenage Riot covering The Sex Pistols, recorded by Aphex Twin then
chewed up and spat into a garbage can.

 

Who inspires you musically?
Everything but other people’s music. (Ed – top answer)

                                                           http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Joq2VaBu694


Can you describe your journey in music from the beginning to where you are now.


Shy boy lacking social skills given a PC and cracked software, lives in tiny
remote Welsh village, moves to the City to sit in dark room for years at a
time to make weirdo music to general bemusement of others.


How would you rate the health of the current Music Scene in Wales? Bands I
have previously chatted to bemoaned the lack of lack of an independent
mid-sized venue – resulting in less support slots for Local bands for
instance..  Is there anything you would do to improve the scene?


It’s healthy and vibrant.  Lots of people working hard for very little/no
financial gain just because they love music.  Gotta be admired.  Swn
festival is awesome, HUB festival too.  Personally I’ve always found it
really difficult to get gigs locally for Conformist so I can relate to that
struggle; would be great to have a larger venue in Cardiff to create some
more high profile support slots for our local bands.

Favorite Venue?
Locally Clwb Ifor Bach.  Good PA and sound engineers.

It is tempting to draw the comparison between your work and The Avalanches
‘Since I Left You’, what do you make of this?


Yeah that’s cool, I’ll take that!  Haven’t listened to that track in a long
time.

Favorite band/musicians?
I find reasons to dislike just about everyone but off the top of my
head….Flying Lotus, Clark, David Bowie.  That’s 3.  I can’t decide on 1.

Vinyl or CD?
I buy CD’s.  I totally get why people go vinyl but for what I do, if I hear
a sample that I want to use, I’d prefer to rip it from the CD.  Don’t like
the pop and crackle of vinyl when sampling.  Too Hip Hop cliché.

The best gig you’ve ever done?


Probably the Pop Factory last year.  During my first song people started to
put their coats on, not a good start, by the end of the second song the
venue was empty aside form my friends and the supports.  So that was a good
one. The Parrot in Carmarthen was a fun one; broke a knuckle and trashed my
£300 Kaoss Pad with a single kung-fu-esque arm chop.  Good times.

‘Post Death Sales Spikes’ – Bladerunner? Are you a fan of Vangelis?
Musically this is probably my least favorite track on the album and was the last thing I finished.  About 5 years ago my
best friend committed suicide; this is a loose tribute to him.  He would’ve got the humor in the track.  Not a massive Blade Runner fan, the score is cool, I prefer Ennio Morricone over Vangelis.

When we spoke earlier you said you had something up your sleeve for 2015..
Please, elaborate!


A new Conformist record before the summer, promote the fuck out of it,
hopefully play a few festivals and possible/probably tour.  Lots of
remixing.  Get a suntan.

Thanks for your time mate – all the best with future recordings (please give us a shout when its about!) 

Listen to ‘Paid To Fake It’ here:

http://www.conformistmusic.co.uk/#

Conformist’s Twitter page – https://twitter.com/conformistmusic/media

TB

Interview: Homes

54-46 bumped into Homes earlier this week to talk gigs out of a helicopter over Rome, Protestant Hymnals and his contemporary musical influences.. Catch his latest single Dualities Cave here.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCVG-0JrdV0

 

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For non-believers and future converts, how would you best describe the Homes experience?

Harmonies, 1970’s track arrangements, soul chord progressions and a good old story!

Tell us a bit about your musical journey so far?

As far as I’m aware it started with my dads influence on me from a young age forcing copious amounts of Motown, Soul and 60/70s Garage Rock bands down my ears! He’s a drummer that’s been playing in bands since the 60s. He made sure that I had a very good understanding of rhythm before id ever even think of playing an instrument. My mother was a trained secondary school and a concert level pianist which probably explains my love for the classical and 19th century romantic composers. Unfortunately my school was pretty backward and I was told i was ‘ an unsuitable student to play music’ which has probably given me an urge to prove them wrong after all these years!

The first band I started was pretty awful Deep Purple wannabe band when i was 14 called the Outback. We were bad, but it gave me my first taste of playing to an audience and under pressure. It was where i started to write songs, arrange and learnt to record which I’ve developed over the last few years to where i am now. Since then I’ve played in dozens of bands and a number of different guises from solo to 6 piece world dance outfits. HOMES is the full band outlet for my songwriting and Dylan Morgan is what i go under for solo purposes. =

You describe your music as an amalgam of trip hop, neo-psychadelia, romantic composers of the 19th century and country. That’s quite an eclectic mix! Who would you describe as your biggest contemporary musical influences?

Good question and one I usually find hard to answer. I come from deepest darkest wales which is musically steeped in protestant hymnals, country and psychedelia which i believe manifests itself somewhat in the music I write for HOMES. But some contemporary artists and bands I really rate at the moment have to be Wave Pictures, Metronomy, Chilly Gonzales and Roberta Fonseca. They all have a big influence on my songwriting at the moment for all sorts of different reasons. Including arrangement, storytelling, use of harmony and all out energy!

What is the way forward for Homes? Any releases on the horizon?

Well at the moment we are recording an EP that is as yet untitled, but are really excited about. We’re hoping to have it out in the new year, but can’t guarantee a specific date as its a work in progress. What I can say is that we’re taken a step back playing live for the time being to get this done, but are gonna be playing plenty of shows and festivals next year!
As a Cardiff Band, how would you rate the health of the current South Wales music scene? 

The music industry as a whole, is in a bit of low point at the moment. Live music venues closing down, record companies folding and numbers are down for attending shows! I’ve been living in Cardiff for about a year and half now and am so happy to see the music scene not only alive and well but thriving as well. There’s an amazing community feel to the music scene here, which I never experienced when I was living in London. Of course like any industry there are cliques, but to be honest I’ve never really felt that here. If you’ve got something good to show for what you do musically and work hard, peoples ears will pick up and word will begin to travel. I love it and feel there’s something going on in Cardiff that the rest of the country need to wake up and pay attention to!

Any plans to tour?

Absolutely, once we have the EP out then we can book some shows to promote it.

Best gig you have ever played?

Easy, i once played a gig in a helicopter above Rome in Italy. It was pretty bonkers!

(Ed- Surely this needs some elaboration?!!?!?)
Best gig you have ever been to?

To be honest one of the best bands I’ve ever seen has to a band from Bristol called Goan Dogs. They’re a 6 piece that mix tropical soca and cypso beats with desert rock. Their harmonies are extraordinary as is their songwriting.

Favourite venue in Wales?

My favourite venue in wales is either the Moon in Cardiff, because it has a lot of character and sounds amazing. Or the Penarth Pavillion because its pretty grand.
If you had to burn a 5 track tape to impress a lover… what tracks would you pick?

Oh I’d just play her Astral Weeks by Van Morrison. But if she wasn’t into too much smultzy lovey dovey then probably The Meters – Rejuvenation

Vinyl, Mp3 or Other?

Vinyl hands down.
Your favourite musical decade?

The one were living in. There’s more incredible music being made now than ever before and am very fortunate to grow up in this digital age where we can access any type of music on the planet in an instant.

 

 

 

Wish you all the best in your upcoming EP…

 

TB

Interview: Totem Terrors

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54- 46 caught up with Max Hicks, bassist for Totem Terrors… Talking South Wales music scene, mix tape songs for lovers and his own musical influences.

 

 

How is the band doing? Everything Okay? Anything in the pipeline?

 

The band’s going great. We’ve been playing a bunch of shows lately, and we’re planning to record our second album in the next few weeks. It’s due out in Spring 2015.

 

 

Describe your musical backgrounds and how you have got to where you are now.

 

We’ve both been in bands since we were 16 or so, though we hadn’t met until I started this one. I started out as a ‘singer’ that was too scared to sing, then I switched to bass because nobody played bass and one of my sister’s friends was a bass player. He was a cool guy – he was older and respected among the youths of our community. He looked out for me a few times when I was being given a hard time for skateboarding, and I looked up to him, so it made sense I’d end up playing bass like he did. After a while, I got a chance to sing in a band – this time I wasn’t scared – and soon after that I played regular guitar whilst singing. Fast forward a couple of bands, and I found myself drawn back to bass, which is where I am now – and I still sing.

Rosie is a really good piano player on the quiet – that’s how she started – but she’s also been playing classical guitar since she was a kid. She joined this band as a drummer first. After a while, our first guitar player left, so Rosie switched to guitar, and that’s the way things have stayed.

 

 

For those yet to experience Totem Terrors, how would you best describe what you do?

 

Well, we’re an ‘indie rock’ band with our roots in post-punk, although we’ve progressed beyond that niche. We’re a two-piece – I play bass and sing, Rosie plays guitar and sings – but we use a drum machine, so we’re functionally a three.

 

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Best gig you’ve ever done?

 

Hard to say. Probably when we played IndieTracks festival in summer 2014. It’s a small indie festival based in an old railway station. We got to play in the station church, which is like a 1940’s Southern American tin shack type of affair. It was a great show – we played well, and we had a full house. Watching all those guys sitting on the pews was neat. And it was a Sunday – our own Sunday service!

 

 

How would you rate the health of the current South Wales music scene? 

 

It’s really good for up-and-coming bands, but the lack of an independent mid-sized venue in Cardiff is hurting the scene. No mid-size venue means no middle-weight bands playing Cardiff on their tours. That means less support opportunities for locals bands, less industry presence and less buzz in general. Touring bands come as far as Bristol, so Bristol gets all the action whilst Cardiff starves. It’s a shame, because at the street level there are dozens of amazing bands here (I appreciate Cardiff isn’t all of South Wales, but it is the capital and in my experience the majority of bands from other parts of Wales eventually end up here, at least for a little while).

 

 

 

 

Favourite venue?

 

I don’t really have one. I’m fond of certain places – Roll For The Soul in Bristol, or Brixton Windmill for example – but from a playing stand-point, there’s nowhere that’s obviously better than anywhere else. From a watching stand-point, I like non-standard venues. Theatres, churches, boats, that kind of thing. I think it keeps a well-worn idea (i.e. playing live gigs) fresh.

 

 

Who would you site as your biggest influences musically?

 

There’d be such a list! Plus, a lot of the time, your favourite bands aren’t necessarily the ones that have influenced you, only you might not realise that. Off the top of my head, I’d say PiL, Wire, Pixies, Talking Heads, Thee Oh Sees, Big Black, Pere Ubu. Rosie has a completely different list, needless to say.

 

 

If you could augment your band with the addition of any musician and instrument – what would you choose and why?

 

Well, a drummer is the obvious. We originally had a human drummer to go with the drum machine, so we’d get that double-drummers thing but with a small difference. After Rosie switched to guitar, we couldn’t find a permanent drummer, and we eventually settled as a two-piece. Outside of that, I’d go for a Martin Swope / Brian Eno sound and tape manipulator type of person, or a Bob Nastanovich percussionist / general mayhem generator. Fun people.

 

 

Favourite band of 2014?

 

Trust Fund. Or Nehruvian Doom, if that counts as a band.

 

 

Vinyl, MP3, CD or other?

 

Vinyl always.

 

 

If you made a 5 song mix tape to impress a lover, what would you put on it? 

 

I’d write her five songs and put those on there*. Either that or just put ‘Love Serenade’ by Barry White five times in a row because it’s hilarious. And sexy.

 

 

Favourite musical decade?

 

I think of decades in terms of ‘x5-‘x5, because I think it’s more accurate, at least stylistically. In which case mine would be ’75-’85.

 

 

Outside of Music, what are your passions?

 

Football, though I hate it sometimes. Writing. Skateboard art. Shoes. Girls. Can I say girls?

 

 

* I totally wouldn’t but the idea’s pretty good, right? (Very romantic – Thom)

 

 

TB

 

 

You can catch everything Totem Terrors Here:

 

www.totemterrors.com

www.facebook.com/totemterrors

www.twitter.com/totemterrors

totemterrors.bandcamp.com

www.soundcloud.com/totemterrors

Gig Review: The Hookworms, Kogumaza and the Scarlet Rascals

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Leeds based psych rock group The HookWorms headlined a 3 band roster at Clwb Ifor Bach in an sonic adventure through effect, peaking lights and wondrous sound.

Off of the back of the wave making album ‘Pearl Mystic’ – The HW’s ( only by their initials in an affront to pseudo celebrity) are looking to build on a stellar reputation with their 11 date ‘Hum’ Tour. The Hum is a ferocious and ominous concept -based on a phenomenon that sweeps the world mysteriously… described thus in the HW’s press release:

“As many as 11% of people can hear the Hum. Reported in the UK and USA since the 1940’s, the phenomena of these invasive low frequency Drones – responsible for insanity and, in extreme cases, even suicide – has many theories ranging from mechanical instruments to the clash of ocean waves, but nethertheless remains that rarest of things: an unexplainable anomaly…”

Having only briefly skimmed through ‘Pearl Mystic’  prior to the show – I was entering a somewhat unknown quantity. But as the raging tension of Away / Towards rippled through I could tell I was in for something special. One of the best album openers I have heard in years.

“we were writing pearl mystic to an audience in the same way your diary has an audience” – said HW’s guitarists SS “It’s written but if noone ever reads it that’s not a big deal. This time round though we knew we had a really clear audience, so the Hum is really bout different freedoms and constraints”

On to the Gig..

Their performance was ably augmented by Kogumaza and Scarlet Rascal, (the latter the best looking band I have ever seen) making it a mouthwatering night of shoegaze, modern psychedelia, Krautrock, fuzz and beautiful noise. As a warning, don’t make eye contact with the hypnotic gaze of Scarlet Rascal’s lead singer Luke Brooks –  you may never be able to break it. (Bit like the weeping angels off of Dr Who).

The HW’s latest single, ‘On Leaving’ demonstrates perfectly what you are in for on this tour. The immense wah- wah’d wall of sound and tremulous building of energy are as what Loud and Quiet Magazine describes as ‘a firework going off underwater’.  The textures of their tracks defy logic – a cross fade of Bridget Riley’s work smashing into Piet Mondrian’s to create something unique, fizzing and very loud.

‘The Impasse’ (MJ describes this as sounding like suicide if they had a full band) and ‘On leaving’ are the two singles available online ..They are both absolutely fantastic. Can’t wait to get my hands on the 180g of the album and destroy some speakers…

There are similarities between Kogumaza and Hookworms and the influence is obvious. Kogazuma’s ambient guitar dronings have clearly influenced their work – and is acknowledged as such by the band.

Kogumaza Lee Rosys

 

Kogumaza

The HW’s cite them as “an utterly mind-blowing band and wonderful people. We wouldn’t be a band if it wasn’t for them and they mean so much to us.” Kogumaza are similarly a noise rock drone band – you think you have felt tension in music then sit through their set as it reaches its peak. The music rises and rise before you until its finale, until you are cut off you finally realise what you have been party to. As exhausting as it is rewarding. They released a split single in 2012 with the HW’s – a familiar story painting instrumental track called Ursids

Their website is available here: http://kogumaza.bandcamp.com/

‘Form and Function’ is a personal favorite of mine from Pearl Mystic. The most lyrical of the record is imbued with call and response lyricism that flex with ease and enjoyment. Just as you think the shriek of guitar had plateaued – the tension in the track rises again, ticking over metronomic drums – breaking out into a wonderful sunshine laden solo.

The gig was a strange but alluring amalgam of neo-psychedelic rock, drone, shoegaze, proto-punk, garage rock, Washington DC hardcore, 80’s British Spacerock and several other genres (breathe) too numerous to mention. I felt like I was party to a bedroom jam that just went on and on and on. It was a wonderful, almost transcendental experience and far removed from normal deadpan bands.

Hookworms-gallery

 

Hookworms

The claustrophobic atmosphere of the club augmented this experience and I could really feel myself getting sucked in as the kaleidoscopic guitars played havoc with the audience and the mesmeric echo of fuzz-blitz engulfed all who were party to the gig. As the track ‘II’ melts away leaving behind a dazed listener, they break into the  atmospheric sounds the HW’s bring us into ‘What we talk about’.

The Hum is a departure from Pearl Mystic – as guitarist SS describes it, “The Hum Is really about freedom and constraint.” As the driving drums of ‘The Impasse’ opens and MJ’s sonorous lyrics rocket through it is self evident that the Band have developed into their own, forging their own personality.

The band is extremely proficient in their musical talent – and Lyricism as lead singer (somewhat cryptically named) MJ slows things down with ‘What We Talk About’ – a rare glimpse of his talent as a lyricist that isn’t overshadowed by acerbic organ or reverberations of noise & echo of voice.

What was also wonderful was the echoing, reverberating lyrics of MJ are complex and deal with existential themes (when you can hear them) and clearly depression as they are more often so distorted and contorted out of all recognition you simply have to embrace the music and let yourself be carried downstream at a furious pace. Their live performance grips you and refuses to let you go.

 

Unfortunately the singer’s voice Matt has broke down towards the end of their tour and ultimately I can’t say I am that surprised – the man puts so much gusto and energy into his hi-octane vocals that it must be an ongoing job to keep it at its best.

 

The Hum is set for release on the 10th of November 2014.

 

I can certainly say I am glad to have caught them in full swing. Get the Record here: http://www.piccadillyrecords.com/products/Hookworms-TheHumDeluxeTransparentVinylEditionWithBonus7-WeirdWorld-99096.html

TB

 

 

For All Things Hookworms

http://www.hookworms-thehum.com

https:/www.facebook.com/Hookworms

http://parasiticnematode.blogspot.com

http://www.weirdworldrecordco.com