Interview: The Volts

54-42 caught up with the Volts literally during the lead guitarists lunch break. The Widnes 4 piece have been making waves with their impressive tunes and energetic live performances. We talked live sets, influences and the challenges facing new bands in the modern music industry..

 

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Can you introduce us to the band…

Well, we are The Volts. We’re Rory (Vocals), Chris (Guitar), Ric (Bass) and Jay (Drums).

How did you meet?

Jay and Chris met first. Jay used to run a music shop in their local town and was Chris’ go to man for guitar strings, so we have Ernie Ball to thank for helping their relationship to blossom. They decided to set up a purely original band since they were both in covers bands at the time and wanted to have a bash at writing their own stuff. Then they recruited Ric and Rory from www.joinmyband.co.uk which is a kind of dating service for musicians, ‘drummer and guitarist seek talented male vocalist and bass player for long walks on the beach and picnics’. The rest is history.

 

For those who haven’t heard your tunes before – how can you sum up ‘The Volt’s experience’..?

If you’ve not seen or heard us live, it’s an energetic, spine tingling, foot tapping musical extravaganza, but don’t take our word for it, come on down to a gig and let us convince you!

 

Describe your musical journey to where you are now.

We started out about 12 months ago and without Rory as it took us a bit of a while to find the right singer so we (Jay, Ric & Chris) were meeting up a couple of times a week and jamming some original ideas and by the time we found Rory we had our first song ready to go (musically that is). He came straight in, stuck a melody and lyrics to it and bang, Red Light our first song was born. Still one of our best songs in our opinion, it has a real funky INXS feel to it and it always seems to get a good response from the crowd. Since then we have progressed in much the same way using the same formula to produce the songs that we have written since.

 

Who are your biggest influences?

 Our mums and dads (joke). To be honest it’s a real mixed bag in terms of which bands we all listen to and take inspiration from; Rory has THE most varied taste in music of anyone on the planet, he can listen to some guy called Drake? right through to Killswitch Engage. Jay is similar, he likes pop music, disco music, classic rock music so your talking Britney Spears, Nile Rogers, & Queen (Britney Spears being his most favourite). Ric likes rock music as does Chris; Queens of the Stone Age, Stereophonics, Royal Blood, classic stuff like Foreigner, Whitesnake, AC/DC etc, and we all weave in and out of each-others likes as well.

 

Current EP/Album Plans on the Horizon?

Very much so! We are going into the studio to record our debut EP imminently. We have the songs all ready to go it’s just a case of getting into the studio and getting the tracks down and produced. We will be releasing the EP early in the new year and we can’t wait!

 

What sort of themes do your songs cover?

They cover quite an array actually, anything from being in a band and the stresses of the opposite sex to social networking and the effect it has had on the world and even one about suicide.. We take inspiration from things that have happened or are happening to us in our lives as well as things that are going on in the world, whether on the news or in the paper that strike a chord with us. Or we can take a simple idea and write a story about it, for example, Rory found himself in an old disused WW2 airbase local to us recently and there was a noose hanging from the rafters that got us thinking what was that about, who put it there etc and we wrote a fictional story about it which became a song; Random we know.

 

Are you currently facing any difficulties as a band?

 Not really, were pretty new on the scene and were just happily beavering away constantly writing and doing as many gigs as we can. If anything were in a really exciting and promising place. We have made some great contacts just this past week and we have played some fantastic gigs with more to look forward to and most pleasing of all is the reaction from impartial audiences that we have been receiving. Our music seems to be going down really well and we have had some lovely feedback from various people which is really nice and also really encouraging for us.

 

What are the main challenges facing the modern band?

 Tough one! It’s certainly an uphill struggle if your goal is to become signed and make it to the big time as it always has been but these days it seems labels don’t take the risks that they used to, not many people get a three album deal anymore, it seems to be you get a deal for a single and if that single doesn’t go top ten, your down the road. It’s a shame really there doesn’t seem to be much investment in bands by a label with some time allowed to develop. Our philosophy is a simple one, keep doing what we’re doing, which is writing and performing our songs to as many people as possible at as many venues around the country as we can , enjoying the shit out of it along the way and if we do make it to where we would love to be, then it’s a bonus! If not, our gigs give us plenty of excuses for a drinking session (not that we need one).

 

Your thoughts on the rise of social media & websites to spread – do you think this has made it easier to get exposure – or has the market been saturated?

 May we refer you to a song we wrote called Digital Coma. This song was inspired by how Chris feels about social media in general which is that it’s completely anti-social. Whether you’re in the pub with your friends, at a bus stop waiting for the number 14, in a queue at the post office, have you noticed how 99% of everyone in that situation is on their smart phone ‘social networking’ rather than talking to strangers and making conversation, the opposite seems to happen and this is what inspired that song. (Purely the opinion of Chris by the way but an example of how one of our songs comes about).

 

To answer your question though, social networking in our opinion is a complete necessity nowadays if you’re going to get your music known. It’s also an indicator to management and record labels, we think, of how much of a following you have as a band, based on how many people are following you online and it also provides  a networking platform for bands to help each-other out by sharing the pages of bands you have supported etc. This is irrelevant to some bands though, we have come across some that shut themselves off in a kind of ‘we are awesome and everyone else is crap so we won’t like or share them and we won’t have them gigging with us’ kind of way (ironically the bands that have been like this are not usually very good in our limited experience) and to us that doesn’t do you any favours because other bands see that and just won’t help you out if they get the chance to. It’s all about getting out gigging, meeting new people, making contacts and making friends. You all share a mutual love at the end of the day so why be bitter against the success or pleased with the failures of the other guys doing the same thing as you. But the only way to get it done is to constantly be in the public eye, therefore we ensure that we post as often as possible. 


If you had to make a 3 track tape to impress a lover… what tracks would you pick?

Surely Barry White would have to be in there somewhere so ‘Can’t get enough of your love babe’. Follow that up with some good old Foreigner ‘I wanna know what love is’ and then to really reinforce the tender and sincere message your trying to portray to the special lady ‘Wutang Clan – Gravel Pit’. What girl could resist such a combination?

How would you define success for The Volts?

Every single genuine fan that we pick up from a live gig is a success to us but ultimately the aim is to make it to the top and write and play our music for a living. Not many people can say they genuinely love what they do and to be in the position one day where we could say that would be brilliant and that’s where we want to get to. 

 

What do you think about the current scene? How are you finding it?

 We’re enjoying it, we have been getting about a lot playing in Manchester, Liverpool even as far as South Wales and we have gigs pencilled in that take us on the road again next year when we hit Birmingham. So yeah we are really enjoying getting out and about and taking our music on the road, it’s the best way to get exposure, social media alone isn’t enough because your only telling half the story, especially in our case as we are a live band and that’s when we are at our best, it’s pretty hard to replicate that in a studio. Collectively have met some great bands as well, lots of top lads that we’ve had a ball with!

You can find us on our main website: www.thevoltsofficial.co.uk.

or alternatively you can also find The Volts on our other social media sites:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thevoltsofficial

Twitter: www.twitter.com/thevoltsmusic

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/thevoltsofficial

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/thevoltsofficial/videos 

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/thevoltsofficial

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Feature – Medial Cortex

Albeit a bit out of 54-46’s usual catchment area for artists….

We got in touch with  Chris Santos A.K.A: Medial Cortex from way over in Portland, Oregon.

You can catch his excellent EP Brainstem Here: https://medialcortex.bandcamp.com/releases

A mix of cerebral lyricism, inventive rhymes and wit – Don’t Miss it.

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Interview below…….

 

 

Tell us about your journey in music.. 

Well I started out writing poetry as a younger kid and then I was huge into metal and punk for most my life. I still listen to it daily but one day I put my poetry to a beat and realized that I had some natural talent, so I ran with that and now I am talking to you!

 

 

Which artists inspire you?

Wow, so many to list but Eyedea is where it all started I admired his flow and vocabulary and message so much. Aesop rock got me with his complex word play and atmosphere’s heart in slugs words really drove me, I studied music appreciation for 3 years back in school and learned loads of history about most genres so ive taken quite a bit from the history of hiphop to throw into my own jams.

 

Outside of music, where do you draw your inspiration from?

I am a chair lift operator at a ski resort so i ride year round and I feel my inspiration comes from the free feeling of skiing and boarding on the hill, skating and biking as well, they are sports I learned that you had to have the drive yourself to improve. I use that concept in my music every song I write I want to one- up myself to prove that I can always do better. It’s the competitive side of me that takes over sometimes.

 

Any future releases in the pipeline?

Yes sir, I have a few secret releases that ill be releasing on my facebook! So follow me to be sure to catch those, but I also have a few music videos, collaborations, and my 2015 album Mind over Matter

www.facebook.com/vocalizedthemc

 

How would you best describe your music?

I describe it as a breath of fresh air in hip hop, I have an extremely unique flow that keeps you wanting to hear more, I take simple concept songs and can create them with superb lyrical content yet keeping it relatable to the everyday listener, you will not hear anyone like me, I strive to stand out from the pack.

 

 

You recently released an E.P. The Brainstem, How was the process of making it? 

It was my first E.P ive ever came out with and I cant lie it was a struggle to get it all organized, I had only been into rapping for about a year so most would consider me novice in the game, but my lyrics speak leagues of depth that most love. I received great feedback on how I could improve and my new work definitely defines that I feel I have become a completely different mc with my finesse and precision on the mic. The ep was an adventure to produce I had a great time doing it and it was a good learning process. Now i’m breaking into the professionalism of music.

 

 

Your top 5 all time records… 

I would have to say daylight/nightlight by Aesop rock, The entire Eyedea discography, atmospheres overcast album, nas ny state of mind, and loads of deltron 3030.

 

 

Favourite bands of 2014?

2014 had some great artists come out! Id have to say Dem atlas has been killing it, Locksmith is getting up there as well, and tons of underground folks that I network with.

 

 

What is the best gig you have done so far?

I have actually yet to play! I am now ready to start performing though so any venues in the northwest get at me! Im ready to play.

 

Any plans to tour?

I had been offered to get on a couple tours across the u.s. and London with Pledge empire, and g.a.s.h. records but was not completely established as an artist and felt I would of not had a good set list established I look forward to getting out there though!

 

Favourite lyricist?

Michael eyedea Larson hands down his music spoke fathoms to me! He is one of the main reasons I started writing music to help others in need.

 

 

 

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: Hijinkx

 

21 year old DJ James Stanley, Aka Hijinkx hits Clwb Ifor Bach on the 7th of November, bringing his own unique brand of house music to the capital… 54-46 caught up with him as he made his way down from Leeds.

 

 

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Describe your act to people who may not be aware of what you do.

 

I produce and perform electronic music ranging between 120 and 140bpm, generally conforming to house music ideals, emphasising groove and emotion.

 

 

 

How did you get into Dj’ing?

 

When you make music, there comes a point where you want to start performing it and along with playing music from other artists that you love, DJing is the ideal performance tool. Around the age of 16, I picked up a cheap controller and taught myself how to use it. As an introduction, it was a perfect learning platform and translated very well when I started using a professional club set up. I started taking things more seriously when I got to University; I sent promo mixes to reputable club nights around Leeds and finally started to acquire gig opportunities as I became acquainted with various promoters around the city. Till I was about 21, I used a laptop whilst DJing, but now I use USBs and enjoy it much more as it encourages me to feel and listen to what I’m playing as opposed to seeing it. I’d love at some point to perform my music entirely live, but at the moment, I love DJing and want to carry on doing this for the foreseeable future.

 

 

 

Tell us about your musical journey thus far. 

 

I come from a family of music lovers, so before I ever touched an instrument, I was surrounded by sounds. With my mum being a fan of folk and rock, it was tape cassettes of Joni Mitchell and Led Zeppelin that I’d here in the back of the old VW beetle strapped up in my car seat! Around the age of 9, I was randomly selected from a big primary school class (just because I think I stuck my hand up) to learn to play Viola, and this pretty much shaped my teenage years and opened many doors playing for Orchestras and string ensembles / quartets. Like most greasy haired teenagers, I also picked up guitar and played with various bands and groups. It was around A levels where I became so interested in composition, I went on to college to study music tech for a year and then took these taught skills to University where I specialised in electro-acoustic composition. With Leeds having such a localised, quality electronic music scene, I was able to form friendships with like-minded individuals and build my profile as an artist. Today, I’m still pursuing everything Hijinkx and would love to take it full time – I’m also composing music freelance.

 

 

Who would you site as your biggest musical influences to date? 

There are so many. But if I had to pin point one composer that completely encapsulates emotion in music and reminds me why music is the most expressive art form, it would be Frédéric Chopin.

 

 

 

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Vinyl or MP3?

 

This old chestnut again! I perform digitally, but prefer listening to vinyl. Performing using digital makes my life a hell of a lot easier when it comes to organisation. I can form genre, key and bpm playlists, tag and cue my tunes, prepare my sets efficiently and have access to music that is simply not available on vinyl. Unfortunately, a great amount of music nowadays, doesn’t get pressed to vinyl, so you either have to spend a fortune cutting records yourself, or going down the digital route. I like to take a few records along to gigs now and again though, nice to change things up. I’ve never really been an advocate of the whole digital vs. vinyl sound argument though, I think it’s all subjective and I don’t like it when people try to push their views and claim they that they are right. I do however think that vinyl culture is a lot more exiting and personal than digital. The experience of hunting and buying vinyl with the artwork that comes packaged with it is amazing, having a tune pressed to white label and actually being able to feel something that you’ve made is also really special.

 

 

 

 

Can you name your top 5 albums of all genres?

 

Tough.. no particular order!

 

Blue – Joni Mitchell

You Make Me Real – Brandt Brauer Frick

Spaces – Nils Frahm

Burial – Burial

Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin

(Lullabies to Paralyse – Queens of the Stone Age)

 

 

 

 

How has your music developed since you started out as a 18 year old?

 

Life is all about learning. I’ve learnt new technical skills sure, but also a lot about myself. Emotion is my main influence and drives my lust to create.

 

 

 

 

Talk us through the effect of social media and how an online presence has affected your ability to reach new audiences across the globe

 

Most would agree that it’s important as an artist today to sustain some sort of online social media presence. The ability to network music and keep those interested up-to-date with current projects is great for personal promotional. It’s not the be all and end all though, there still needs to be substance in the actual product advertised. Unfortunately, because there is no body to regulate the internet, there is a quantity over quality crisis today and too much rubbish floating around. The best way to conduct social media activity is to be humble and informative.

 

 

 

Best Gig you’ve played?

 

I’ve got many favourites, but I always refer back to one I did at some venue called Hollback Underground Ballroom. It was one of my first in Leeds, it was in a rough trading estate, it had four brick walls and a huge soundsystem. It lost its licence not long after the event.

 

 

 

If Simon Cowell offered you a million squid, would you pack it in and become the sixth member of One Direction?

 

No haha.

 

 

 

Outside of music, what makes you tick?

 

I love food, football and a bit of cricket in the summer! Friends, family, animals, clichés…….

 

 

 

 

 

Wish you all the best of luck mate with your upcoming dates. 

 

TB

 

 

 

 

Hijinkx’s bio: A 21 year old musician studying at University of Leeds. His eclectic taste and passion for electronic music is evident by his song selection when performing live and his pallet of production styles. Having now gathered a following and with one release under his belt, Hijinkx is going from strength to strength with forthcoming releases imminent on reputable record labels.

 

 

Hijinkx’s Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/hijinkx_uk

Hijinkx’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hijinkxdJc3hDVo

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

 

 

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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