Aah, this brings back some memories...
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Weird Skull Enterprises
I'm a sucker for this shit. Luckily, it's my blog... The Holy Mess remind me of Portsmouth punk trio You, Me and the Atom Bomb - at first, they sound a little too much like The Lawrence Arms, then you realise everyone involved in that sentence is so awesome, it doesn't really matter.
Dismount's not even new. The Holy Mess released it on their own label Weird Skull in June 2009. But chances are, you've still never heard of 'em. Red Scare Records has. They just signed the Philadelphia four-piece and are in the process of putting together a self-titled introductory album (featuring this EP, their 2010 Benefit Sesh 7" and two brand new songs). See... shit's still relevant.
The Holy Mess play hard-hitting, DIY pop-punk with more heart than brains. Sleepless nights, shit day jobs, dual vocals (one gruff, one slightly less gruff) and a great sense of humour. The melodies are catchy and aggressive, the drumming's fast, the production's raw and Dismount's an instant classic. Don't believe me? Listen to the whole thing here. And how about this for a note on your door...
For fans of The Lawrence Arms, The Menzingers, The Loved Ones, Captain, We're Sinking, The Flatliners... and people with ears.
Took some more photos for Vice UK. Check out the full gallery on their blog.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
March 23 2011
The gilded caverns of the Royal Albert Hall fill with an odd collection of music fans. There's a Nine Inch Nails shirt. Your token balding metal head - complete with Satanic, ram's head t-shirt. And a bunch of mums and dads that look like they took a wrong turn on their way to a Matt Cardle show.
The Xcerts, from Aberdeen, go on first at 19:15. And they're an explosive combination of raw energy and catchy hooks - refined angst, with stadium (or in this case, hall) sized choruses. Like Biffy Clyro and Taking Back Sunday meets The Ataris (with a Kris Roe meets Justin Bieber hairdo). One thing's for sure, Scottish lads can sing. Drummer Tom Heron is a pleasure to watch: gracefully intense and stylishly aggressive.
After The Xcerts, comedian George Lamb, our painful host, appears on stage. "Did you hear Victoria Beckham's pregnant? A little girl. They've just announced the name. Inspired by their son Romeo, they've decided to call her Alfa..." The crowd stares at him in disbelieving silence. "Come on... It was better than that. Come on..." He pleads.
Up next, Glasgow indie four piece Frightened Rabbit's name suits them. "We're shitting ourselves," admits frontman Scott Hutchison, with reddened, teary-looking eyes and a Ron Burgundy beard. Percussionist Grant Hutchison sits in front with the rest of the band, a snare drum between his legs, a set of brushes and a tambourine strapped to his foot. Frightened Rabbit look like a band of buskers that hustled their way on stage. But their soulful acoustic ballads reverberate around The Royal Albert Hall.
During the break, Lamb comes out again. This time he says, "Big news in Jordan. They're thinking of changing the name to Katie Price." Again, silence... Then the Trust shows a moving video featuring two teenage cancer patients sharing their experiences with the disease. Thankfully, Lamb shuts up and let's it roll.
On stage - no shirts, covered in tattoos, beards and two parts ginger - Biffy Clyro look like wild Scottish highlanders. They kick into "The Captain" like wild horses are tearing them apart. Next they launch into "Boooom, Blast & Ruin" and "Who's Got A Match?" And, backed by a retina-frying lighting display, they sound incredible.
Frontman Simon Neil has this intense, no bullshit, Kurt Cobain presence about him, as he does his silly, sultry little moves and climbs the speakers. And I'm sure, in his odd collection of homemade-looking tattoos (and some great ones), I spotted the cover of In Utero near a pair of red lips.
Each band member has a puzzle piece tattooed on their rib cage and there's a great sense of brotherhood to Biffy Clyro. That's why their live guitarist was such an odd fit: he was wearing a shirt, he was in shadow most of the time and he rarely appeared on the giant video screen behind them, unless he was caught in the background of someone else's shot.
During "God & Satan" the standing section's a sea of phones and cameras - the iPhone has clearly replaced the lighter (health and safety). Then Biffy Clyro explode again. This time to "That Golden Rule." And with Neil on his knees, carving it out, and bassist James Johnston attempting to insert himself into his amp, the ending sounds phenomenal.
Re-listening to Biffy Clyro all day before the show, a big theme (besides horses) to Neil's lyrics is the Grim Reaper. The idea that "Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies." Which, in our current surroundings, carries even more intensity.
After "Many of Horror" the band disappears. Then, after an actual gap that makes you wonder and a hall full of fans clapping in unison, they reappear again. "We'll do three more" says Neil. And for some reason, it actually feels like an encore. After "Know Your Quarry," the hall empties. Tonight feels like a good night for humanity.
Check out http://www.teenagecancertrust.org for more info...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Check out Vice UK's Q&A with Ninja and Harmony Korine. And there's a full photo gallery up over here.
Monday, March 21, 2011
As a fan of Travis Barker's innovative beats, is it wrong to expect his "solo album" to contain a few genuinely breathtaking moments of rhythmic insanity? Instead, drumming takes a backseat to the biggest hip-hop reunion party since Christmas dinner at Tom Hanks' house. And there's nothing worse than a bunch of rappers in designer cardis trying to get their rock on, spitting lines like, "...the rhyme tempest, like lightning bolts being thrown down from Mount Olympus, beat on your head like the Travis Barker cymbal... Crash!"
There are two "rock" songs on Give the Drummer Some. Which, as you can imagine, sound pretty out of place. "Saturday Night", a Transplants reunion featuring Slash on guitar, is probably the worst song on the album. Tim Armstrong sounds like he phoned in a few lines he scribbled down on Sunday morning and Slash sounds like Santana with Down syndrome. Corey Taylor's song, "On My Own", sounds more Bon Jovi than Slipknot.
Rap-wise, all the lyrics just sound so uncomfortably cheesy. Like everyone's playing someone else - or themselves in a fun house mirror. And what the hell's up with everyone pointing out that they're collaborating with Travis Barker, on every song? We get it. You're rapping on Travis Barker's album. He's a "rock" drummer. Cymbals sound loud...
Still, I couldn't help laughing at lines like, "Travis on the drums, Travis on the beat, Wayne got the smoke and Game got the heat", "Blink 182 times when you see the Twista with Travis" and "Sipping on the liquor, 182 proof". Even Tom Morello sounds out of sorts playing guest guitar on "Carry It". And wait 'til you hear Steven Aoki's brain-aneurysm-trance closer "Misfits".
On paper, it should work. Or at least, could work. But it doesn't! Mostly, everyone sounds like an extreme caricature of themselves. From Cypress Hill and Tim Armstrong, to Tom Morello, Lil Wayne and Travis Barker himself. The only song worth a few minutes is "City of Dreams", featuring Clipse and Kobe.
The full lineup of A-list guest stars includes: Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz, Game, Pharrell, Lupe Fiasco, RZA, Raekwon, Tom Morello, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, E-40, Dev, The Cool Kids, Slaughterhouse, Yelawolf, Twista, Busta Rhymes, Lil Jon, The Transplants, Slash, Kid Cudi, Tech N9ne, Bun B, Beanie Sigel, Kobe, Cypress Hill, Corey Taylor, Paul Wall, Jay Rock, Karupt, Clipse and Steve Aoki.
Straight away, songs like "Holing Out" and "Get Away" sound like anthems from my childhood. Instantly, I'm transported to the shadowy outskirts of a dodgy '90s "disco", staring at some girl dancing with some arsehole that doesn't deserve her. Everyone's wearing jeans torn at the knees and a dumb, stoned look like anything's possible...
London band Yuck's irritatingly self-titled debut reeks of pre-grunge, alternative rock bands like Dinosaur Jr, Superchunk, Pavement, Sonic Youth and the Pixies. Like a band you might see on Beavis & Butthead - an acid, psychedelic effect used heavily in the music video.
Of course, they've given the sound a hip, modern update. Still, there's something oddly comforting and nostalgic in their fuzzy, retro guitar tones, their soulful, "alt-rock" ballads and the swooning, introverted, '90s art fagginess of it all.
Fresh from SXSW in Austin, this April, Yuck take on North America, touring their way from Los Angeles to Northampton, then through Canada and back to the UK in May. For more, check out yuckband.blogspot.com
Gary Numan reflects on his career, surprisingly nonchalant and brutally honest, admitting that it started with a bang, got pretty rubbish in the middle and then regained some kind of upward momentum in the mid '90s. "It's pretty good now, actually", he says...
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, on the phone, Gary Numan's chatty and funny - he even goes to the beach. When he talks about his 2006 album Jagged, his latest release, he goes, "Fuck me... 2006? That's a long time ago..." And stares off into the distance - or so I imagine. These days, the Dark One's holed up at camp Numan with the wife and kids - or as he calls it, "The Tribe". He's on a tight deadline, trying to get new album Splinter out by the end of the year.
As a rule, Gary Numan hates retro. But he also realises the importance of acknowledging his history - and keeping the hardcore fans happy. So this May, he's heading down under to perform his 1979 debut solo album The Pleasure Principle in its entirety. Before that, on April 1 and 2, in Manchester and London respectively, Numan's playing two Back to the Phuture shows, with an all-star lineup that includes John Foxx (ex-Ultravox) and Alan Wilder (ex-Depeche Mode). I spoke to him about the shows, his career, new music, his distaste for nostalgia and, of course, The Mighty Boosh...
So... what’s a regular day in the life of Gary Numan?
It depends what I’m doing. On a normal day I get up at six. I’ve got kiddies, so I have about an hour and a half of getting them off to school – about as far away from rock ‘n roll as you can get. But after that it’s the studio. I love touring, being on a bus and all that. Working from home is a great idea if you haven’t got children. I’m thinking about getting a building somewhere, there’s too many distractions. Good distractions.
Click here for the full interview - Don't Panic Online...
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
In person, Richard Ayoade's the world's most softly-spoken man, analysing every word, considering every syllable, visibly agonising over being misconstrued and taken out of context. With his trademark afro and glasses, he looks (and sounds) like a hipper, more stylish version of Maurice Moss (IT Crowd). He discusses film like a full-blown cinema junkie. But it's awkward, uncomfortable. Usually, I get nervous before a big interview. Not this time. If anything, it's Ayoade that looks nervous. At one point he offers, "I’m not a natural interviewee. It’s not my strongest suit. I feel sorry for people having to interview me".
Besides IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi's Dark Place and The Mighty Boosh, Richard Ayoade's directed music videos for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Super Furry Animals, Vampire Weekend, Kasabian and his friends Arctic Monkeys (and The Last Shadow Puppets). He also directed the comedy "rock opera" AD/BC, working with IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi and Mighty Boosh co-star Matt Berrry. Submarine, a coming of age story starring Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate, is his first full-length feature film. I spoke to Richard at the Soho Hotel (above).
What was it about Submarine that appealed to you as a filmmaker?
Initially, I just really liked the book. I liked Joe Dunthorne’s writing. I liked the character. It wasn’t something I thought was particularly filmy. The book’s very literary. All first person. It felt very hard to translate. But I liked the book so much I wanted to try.
So you weren’t actively looking for your first film at the time?
Not really. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I… Er… Yeah… I wanted to make a film, maybe. It was a matter of wait until something felt right. It wasn’t a thing of me reading through various books and going, “I’ve hit upon it”.
Click here for the full interview - Don't Panic Online...
This one's pretty amazing. The Eyewriter initiative's described as, "low-cost eye-tracking apparatus & custom software that allows graffiti writers and artists with paralysis resulting from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to draw using only their eyes." Insane. Check out the vid...
Graffiti, in Tabriz? When you think about a place like Iran, you almost imagine another universe entirely, completely cut off from the one you're caught up in. But the more you see of the world, the more you realise we're all the same. ICY and his brother SOT grew up skating and listening to punk rock... in Iran for fuck's sake! From there, they graduated to street art. As you'd expect, their work's heavily influenced by their surroundings. But instead of a negative outlook, ICY and SOT tell a tale of hope, peace and redemption.
In 2009, ICY, SOT and three other Iranian street artists (FrZ, MAD, CK1) took part in 'From the Streets of Iran', shown at the Crewest Gallery, Los Angeles. But as you'll find out, ICY and SOT couldn't make it. They're both currently seeing out a one and a half year term of military service - required in Iran to get a passport. Still, that didn't stop Zack de la Rocha from showing up... We got in touch with ICY to find out more.
What are things like in Iran at the moment?
Everyone’s disappointed and angry about the current status. It’s very hard to protest or even think about it at the moment. I’m doing a very big risk by even answering your questions.
If you could say one thing to the authorities and protestors?
I have nothing to say to the authorities, but the people should never give up hope.
Click here for the full interview (Don't Panic Online)
Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen. Tiger blood. Winning. Bree Olson. Two and a Half Men... Sick to your stomach, right? I know I am. Right now, some poor news editor (and assistant editor) somewhere's huddled over yet another image of Charlie Sheen, thinking, "Christ, not this nut job again..." They'll shrug, complain, then they'll concede and run it on the front page. Truth is, that's what people want. We love seeing idols fail. We love seeing people trip up and fall apart. It's entertaining. Especially on live TV! And no public meltdown's been more entertaining (and more live) than Charlie "not from this terrestrial realm" Sheen's recent outbursts. Before Japan, there was no other news... Here's a look at few very entertaining, very public meltdowns.
When the world's forgotten about Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears will be there to pick up the slack again. She has to. I mean, so far, her life story reads like a blueprint for rebounding child-star trainwrecks everywhere. First she married childhood friend Jason Alexander (not George Costanza) in Las Vegas, on January 3 2004 - and had the wedding annulled 55 hours later. Then came Kevin "Broken Home" Federline. Then there was that small matter of the world's most famous haircut. Then, barely recognisable, she attacked an SUV with an umbrella.
Click here for the full story on Don't Panic Online...
12 March - Borderline, Soho
It's amazing what lies around the corner in London. I walk past Manette Street all the time and I had no idea a quick right at the "fully licensed sex shop" would lead me to Borderline. Not until I TFLed it on Saturday night! Devil's Brigade was the reason. A chance to see Rancid's Matt Freeman (and potentially Tim Armstrong) in the flesh...
The air smells like sweat when I get in. The Exposed must have just finished the earliest set in punk rock! The next band, London/Newcastle punk rockers The Grit, is on stage setting up. Looking around, I see way more Rancid shirts (and flatcaps) than Devil's Brigade merch. And the look in people's eyes is hopeful, like they're also half expecting Tim Armstrong to walk in at any moment.
The Grit kick off like Mike Tyson at an airport. Borderline's tiny but the sound's amazing. And The Grit are tighter than a nun's handshake! Their sound's a rousing, sing-along combination of bands like Street Dogs, Face to Face and Bouncing Souls. There's Northern, working class pride. A dash of psychobilly. A pinch of ska. A double bass-hopping mad slapper. And a guy called Charlie Boy on acoustic guitar - that you can only really hear when no one else is playing.
"Alright London, this one's for the working man," says guitarist Louis Ville in a thick Geordie accent. "But you don't know much about that round here," he adds, spitting into the crowd for punctuation. Thankfully, I'm still at the bar. "Are you ready for a love song Underworld? Is this Underworld?" asks frontman Big Lou, rubbing his eyes in confusion. "Fuck me it's early... I just woke up! Okay, this is a love song, so grab your lady by the cunt like you mean it."
Despite their working class, hard-as-nails, punk-rock-spitting demeanour, The Grit's got a lot of soul. There's a folky sweetness to Big Lou's vocals. And Louis Ville and bassist Little Man Kurt (you've gotta love Geordie nicknames) back him up like a chain gang. Even the odd bum note can't ruin the intensity.
Why is this, like, the only photo of Matt Freeman on the Internet?
A few minutes after The Grit, when Devil's Brigade take the stage to set up, it becomes painfully clear that tonight will not include Mr. Tim Armstrong. Even though he co-wrote the album with Matt Freeman, it's Freeman's baby. He's the singer this time. The frontman. The centre of attention. And if Armstrong was there, you know people would be shouting for Rancid songs all night.
Still, that doesn't stop Freeman from name-dropping like he's writing a blog (sardonic). At one point he asks the crowd, "Do you know who Lars Frederiksen is?" Which gets the second loudest cheer of the night (after Armstrong's numerous mentions). Freeman does throw out a few Rancid bones though, treating the crowd to "Tenderloin" and "L.A River."
In the end, Devil's Brigade get the job done. Freeman's touring band backs him up like straight-shooting hired guns - even though his drummer looks like a gum-chewing, New York personal trainer. Truth is, The Grit stole the show with their first three songs. Matt Freeman seems like a nice guy though - damn that dude can slap the bass! But he still sounds like Cookie Monster - which suits Devil's Brigade better than Rancid...
If you can dream it (and afford it), Daniel Reese (aka Brass Monki) can make it happen. Inspired by a boring afternoon, a Biro and a pair of white plimsolls, Reese threw himself into sneaker pimping when a night out in his new doodle sneakers ended with a pocket full of requests and a wallet full of cash - he didn't buy a drink all night! These days, things are way more professional. Business is booming and the Monki's branching out. He even got a cease and desist letter from Warner Bros, for an awesome-looking pair of Batman and Robins. Not bad for a 22-year-old that still lives at home...
How long have you been customising sneakers?
It’s been about three years since I doodled on those pumps. But I turned my attention to leather and started the Brass Monki blog in July 2009.
Were you always a massive sneaker head?
Huge! Since I turned 16 and got a job, I haven’t stopped buying shoes.
How many pairs do you own?
I’d say about 40 sneakers and around 25 plain white Nike Dunks ready to paint!
Click here to read the full interview on Don't Panic Online. And to order a pair, check out brassmonki.com
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
"What's that you say, a Lawrence Arms DVD?" Well... not quite. So apparently, Crankstrap Productions are (were - claim to be) hard at work on a live DVD celebrating 10 years of The Lawrence Arms. Crankstrap filmed the band at Metro, in their hometown Chicago, on October 24 2009. And currently, there's still no sign of an actual DVD. But I did find these four awesome rough cuts: "Recovering the Opposable Thumb," "Turnstyles," "100 Resolutions" and "Are You There, Margaret? It's Me, God." Enjoy...
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
When he poses for photos, he won’t let me shoot his face. When I ask about opening night, he replies nervously. “I probably won’t come", he says. "I hate being the centre of attention. It really freaks me out… unless I’m shitfaced”. Mysterious Al’s been at it for more than a decade, working with high profile clients like Adidas, Volvo and Eastpak, nailing a signature style that’s part zombie kitsch, part man of the world.
This week, Al kicks off his solo show career with The Doomsday Papers, showing at StolenSpace Gallery, Shoreditch ‘til March 27. I met him the morning before the big opening. He seemed nervous.
Where does the name come from originally? Any relation to Weird?
No. No relation. The name’s just something I got at art school. I kind of wanted it to be gangster, like Notorious B.I.G. But that was taken. Mysterious was the next best thing, really.
What’s The Doomsday Papers all about?
This body of work is all about different faiths and beliefs, all mashed together and brought into the 21st century. Wicca, Mayan beliefs, popular culture… Everything brought together in a colourful way. Doomsday Papers, as a title, is to do with the Mayan prediction for 2012.
When do you think the world’s going to end then?
Click here to read the full interview on Don't Panic Online.
Friday, March 4, 2011
The lobby of the Soho Hotel sounds like a United Nations conference. Journalists from around the world hang out like sharks at feeding time – friendly, but with a dangerous glint in their eyes. Suddenly, around 12:00, the Foo Fighters appear, minus drummer Taylor Hawkins.
I can't believe how young and fresh Dave Grohl looks. With cowboy boots and a beard, guitarist Chris Shiflett looks like a mini version of Hugh Jackman. Pat Smear's there as well. And bassist Nate Mendel, furrowed as usual.
Then Taylor breezes down the stairs: sunglasses, long blond hair and a goofy grin. He looks like he just stepped off set filming The Lords of Dogtown. "Can I get a bacon roll with no vegetables?" he asks. Then the whole band's prepped, powdered and shuffled off into different rooms for a hard day's work. When my turn comes, I meet Taylor in the Screening Room.
In these interviews, do you ever feel like the consolation for journalists that didn't get Dave?
I've been a consolation since the day I joined this fucking band, haven't I? Yeah. Every now and again. But it's okay. I'm fine with it. It's part of the job.
Did you guys give him a hard time after his NME Godlike Genius Award?
Oh, it'll be never-ending. He says, 'You guys shut the fuck up, I'm a God like genius. Don't ever challenge me again.'
Click here to read the full interview on Channel24