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

Get Following!

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.

 

 

 

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.

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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

 

 

Interview: Omsic Record Label

54-46 caught up with the fledgling London-Based  Omsic record label earlier this week to discuss their innovative new ideas for the music industry,  signing musicians based on talent rather than marketability. A Strong statement in an era dominated by Cowells & multimillion pound record companies…. 

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Tell me about the crowd funding campaign you have just launched and its purpose?

We haven’t launched the campaign yet but we will in a couple weeks. Music industry is not cheap, we need to hire professionals, rent a studio, buy right equipment, pay distributors… That’s a lot of money and we can’t afford that, that’s why we’re seeking for help. We’re offering amazing prizes for those who help : special memberships in our website or even being the first one to be signed. 

 

Describe your musical journey thus far? 

I’ve been singing and playing for years plus I’ve worked as a songwriter for the last months.

 

Can you outline what you are trying to achieve with this project?

It may be seen as an ambitious project for a young musician, but I want to make a revolution in the music industry. I want to create a music label where musicians  feel free to develop their talent and be themselves without being judged. I believe talent is the key of success, neither the appearance or the style.

 

What is wrong with current way in which artists are signed?

Big music label are always willing to make money, that’s why they’re only signing both artists with a huge fan base on the internet or good-looking artists with no talent but singing autotune. This is very disheartening for young artists, because if you do not have the money to get a good promo or your style doesn’t suit stereotypes, you will never be signed by a major label.

 

What are you looking to change with this project?

I want to destroy stereotypes. I want real music back and change the whole music industry. I really want to prove that music labels are wrong, I’m sure kids would rather listening to good music instead those auto-tuned artists, we have to show them what real music sounds like.

 

What inspired you to create this project? It’s a very noble idea… 

I’ve met plenty of good artists that will never have a chance in this industry because of the canons. It really breaks my heart, everyone should be able to do what they love and get recognition. They deserve that.

 

Has the rise of social media & online band activity been detrimental or beneficial to musicians?

Definitely beneficial. Internet and the media makes things a lot easier for them. Many artists have become well-known thanks to the media. It is also a good way to interact with fans. Fans need to feel loved by their idols.

 

The current strap line of you website is ‘we believe in talent, not stereotypes’ – can you elaborate on why you chose this?

Since I was kid I was told that only good-looking people succeed in the entertainment world. I really believe in talent, a good-looking person will make more money at first but in the end of the day, what will remain is their music. I can assure that I will sign talented people, it doesn’t matter how pretty or thin they’re.

 

The project sounds a lot like what Tony Wilson tried to achieve with Factory. Do you see him as an inspiration?

Tony Wilson did a great job, although his career is inspiring, the Factory didn’t influence our decision to found the label.

 

Any current bands that you are  looking to sign?

I must confess that I love listening to indie bands on Youtube and would love to sign some of them, but we have a lot of work to do before we’re ready to sign!

 

In ten years time, what is the ideal situation for Omsic?

In an ideal situation, Omsic would be as big as Sony or Warner. We can do this if we have the support of the crowd.