Memphis May Fire Interview

Dallas band Memphis May Fire are rapidly emerging in the metalcore scene and blew away many fans and critics alike with latest release ‘Challenger’. This autumn the band headed over to our shores with Of Mice and Men for a fully sold out Rise Records tour. We sent Emma to catch up with singer Matty Mullins backstage at the London date. Although Matty has been reported as coming across with arrogant swagger on stage, the Memphis May Fire front man is actually impeccably polite and full of honest truths about the scene and his band. Here’s what he had to say…

Matty Mullins, Memphis May Fire

Your older brother is also a musician, do you think his example has influenced you?

Of course, 100%. When I was growing up, his band was doing really well in the Christian scene, and they were touring in a bus just a few months into their career, so seeing that was like ‘Wow’. I also found his live show really inspirational, it wasn’t just his success that motivated me.

My sister dated a lot of musicians, so I got to meet lots of interesting people through her. My whole family has influenced me really, my mum took me to contemporary Christian concerts! I went to DC Talk as one of my first shows, my mum used to take me to Creation Fest, so musically I think I had a privileged upbringing.

My brother was living it and my mum and sister also got me involved, so I guess I was involved musically from a very young age. I’ve always known how the game works, I thank my family for that.

Which songs are you most proud of lyrically?

Jeez… I know it’s not really a proper answer, but I guess all of them. I can’t say a specific song as the albums are all different from each other.

If you listen to all our albums back to back you can see that my lyrical style changes. ‘Sleepwalking’ was more poetry and philosophically influenced, ‘Between The Lies’ was more me writing politically and morally. From then on we went to ‘The Hollow’ and that was a significant change, it was written about people that I know and experiences that people go through. Not necessarily things I have personally experienced but events people close to me have. Death, divorce and other issues are mentioned there. I think it gives our fans an outlet to relate to. ‘Challenger’ is different again. It’s about us as a band and who we are as people, and it reveals some things we struggle with.

As every album is different, my lyrics don’t stand alone. It’s more like a journey. I love that some people are touched by my lyrics, but I’m not hugely proud of them currently. I don’t think I have peaked. There is still a long way to go and I perceive myself to write much better lyrics in the future.

Do you think your personality comes across differently in the media and on stage to what is actually is like?

Yes. For sure. Our music is somewhat heavy and wild. This isn’t my personality. I’m not a manly man. I don’t drink massive amounts or like tough sports. I don’t live a ‘heavy’ lifestyle. A little bit of my personality comes out through my music, but the bold image I display on stage is quite different to who I really am. I’m quite quiet and through our music I can release emotions that I can’t release day to day. I feel I can articulate myself and get my point across in a louder fashion through music than I can through any other means.

Memphis May Fire, Electric Ballroom 10.10.12

Who would you consider to be the best front man in history?

Oh my gosh! That is a difficult question. I’m going to have to really think about this one. I reckon some people might hate me for my answers, as my musical upbringing was very different from many others. I reckon everyone would be like ‘Iggy Pop’ or ‘Mick Jagger’, but for me, it’d be Toby Mac from DC Talk. Despite being in his late 40s he still goes wild on stage and he does a hip-hop project on the side that’s really cool. There are some great front men in the heavier world currently. Jake from August Burns Red is amazing. In our genre, he’s hands down the best. I also want to mention Anthony Green, he’s amazing too.

If we are talking about stage presence, I think Christian from Blindside is so different, but in a good way. His moves are like no other. He doesn’t do metal stomps or hardcore hand movements. He just does flowing dance moves, it’s like he really connects with the music.

You’re on tour with Of Mice & Men at the moment, Austin Carlile is another much loved front man, what do you think it is that makes him so popular?

I think it’s because he’s developed so much over the past few years that he’s been touring. I saw videos from the Attack Attack! days and he’s made massive steps since then. And what’s more, it’s really inspiring that he’s doing this, and so well, with such a serious heart condition.

He has to be careful on tour because of his condition, but it doesn’t stop him being awesome on stage. He’s a real passionate dude as well, he loves his fans and he always tries to give the best performance he can which is really important when you are fronting a band.

What qualities make up a good front man?

To be original anymore is impossible. Everything has been done. So taking something that’s not original and putting your own twist on it is really important. Showing individuality is the key I suppose.

So Memphis May Fire are on the latest Punk Goes Pop album, how did you get involved and why did you chose ‘Grenade’?

Well, we were approached, there was a huge list of songs, and ‘Grenade’ looked like it suited us best.

You see, we’ve never been a funny band. We don’t try and be popular by acting stupid, so we wanted to pick something that still reflected our style. Lyrically, I think it transcends the sort of thing we write rather than being a more stupid style of pop song. On ‘The Hollow’ there are a lot of songs about heartache and ‘Grenade’ is sort of similar. It was fun to sing it. I’m not the biggest Bruno Mars fan but I think his voice is really cool, I respect him. Although I’m pleased with the song, and I think the whole album is great, its not something we are looking to perform live. We don’t want to be a band that rides off someone else success.

What are you planning for the rest of 2012 and 2013?

Literally two days after we get off this tour we will be heading out with Asking Alexandria, As I Lay Dying and Suicide Silence in America. That’s going to be massive- maybe the biggest tour we’ve done as a band. I’m so stoked to be going out with As I Lay Dying, they are iconic. Then after that tour we are off to Soundwave Festival in Australia, then there are two more US tours that haven’t been announced yet.

It sounds very full on! Will you be back over in the UK at all?

Yes. That I can confirm. The details are still a secret at the moment, but it’s going to be awesome!

Words: Emma Wallace
Live Photos: Emma Wallace
Portrait: Tim Easton

Memphis May Fire, Electric Ballroom 10.10.12

Interview: Sharks

With influences ranging between The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division and Black Flag, the Leamington Spa quartet, Sharks, are right up our street. We caught up with the James Mattock (lead vocals and guitar) and Andrew Bayliss (guitar) backstage at Hevy Festival before their set to discuss their album No Gods, signing to Rise Records and their plans for the future…

So for those who don’t know much about Sharks, if you could describe your band in three words, what would you say?

James: God I don’t know….

Andrew: Well, I’m going to go all cheesy and say, ‘Rock. And. Roll’. Sounds so cheesy I know, but it does sum us up quite nicely.

You’ve been on tour with some awesome bands, who would you say are the most inspiring bands you’ve toured with?

James: Oh I don’t know, there are so many… but Social Distortion was cool. Gallows, The Gaslight Anthem…

Andrew: We’ve been so lucky with tours, we’ve had some really good ones. We’ve had a mixed bag, lots of different genres and plenty of big names.

You’re signed to Rise Records, they are currently famous for their metalcore bands, although they do have some sweet punk bands like The Bouncing Souls. What was it that swayed you to Rise Records?

Andrew: They were just very enthusiastic and passionate about wanting to put out our records. We were a little skeptical at first because as you say their roster does lean more towards metalcore, and at the time they hadn’t signed The Bouncing Souls and other bands like that. We were one of the first bands for them to sign that was different to what they had been doing but they were so passionate we went with it.

James: Yeah, we knew of their aspirations to branch out and we were proud to be the band they wanted to branch out with, so yeah, we just went for it! They are a very good label if you want to attempt to crack America. So far they’ve helped us a lot. The only negative thing about signing to Rise Records is that people might see our video on Rise Records Youtube etc and then be a bit confused, like,’Hang on, this doesn’t sound like Of Mice & Men, where the fuck is the breakdown?!’.

Andrew: We were just enthusiastic for people to hear the record, and Rise really wanted to get it out there. We’re pleased to have signed to them.

How has the overall reception been for your latest record ‘No Gods’?

James: Overall its been great! Even these more sort of hardcore kids are into it, I’ve heard they regard it as their ‘chill out’ music, which is a little odd as essentially we are still a punk band! But whatever, as long as people are getting into it, that’s cool!

Andrew: I’m still really proud of that record. We went in with something that is the polar opposite to what we put out, but I think that’s for the best. Brian McTernan, the producer, really helped to reign us in and get a more focused sound, because to start with, looking back it was more of just a jam!

James: I can’t put my finger on it, there’s material that has inspired us from all over. Some really old stuff too. We wrote it over a few years, whereas the current record we are writing over a smaller time scale, like two months! So its hard to say what our influences were when its such a long time span. We were just aiming for a solid debut, a timeless guitar record.

Andrew: We wanted the production raw, we wanted to walk on that line between a nicely produced record and something that is still quite alive. Kind of like The Gaslight Anthem, although they definitely have a different sound, its that kind of guitar record.

Are there plans in the pipeline for new material and tours?

James: Yeah, its going good. I guess we are about half way through a record. We’ll aim for about 20 songs, then cut back.

Andrew: We want to get it wrapped up as quick as possible to keep the positive attitude going and get people to hear new stuff. As much as we like ‘No Gods’ we aren’t going to sit on it for too long.

James: We want it written by the end of the year, and I guess we’ll have to see where we are financially, we might have to record it ourselves. At the moment we are focusing on getting the best songs we can to get out there as quickly as possible.

Andrew: We aren’t on the road as much as we have been, so we are using all this down time to write. Although saying that, we are heading out to Australia soon which we are so looking forward to, and then Japan after that!

James: Hopefully we’ll have a UK/Euro tour soon, maybe November time.

WORDS: EMMA WALLACE

Introducing: Giants

On Thursday we showed you the brilliant video ‘Snakes’, the new single by UK underground hardcore sensation, Giants. Here’s what we found out when catching up with Giant’s Jack to discuss our shared passion for skateboarding and music.

So it’s no secret that you guys have huge amounts of love for skateboarding and music, would you say that each of those passions cross over into the other?

Yes definitely. It is no secret at all that most of us would say most of our musical background comes from skateboarding, watching skate videos as kids with your mates and hearing so many different styles of music for the skaters sections, finding out what bands they were and getting into them from that etc. But I am not saying that is the only way all of us got into music haha!

You’ve listed Skateboarding as your only influence on your Facebook page, would you say that that really is the only influence on your music or do other things come into play when writing?

No it isn’t our only influence, we’re mainly influenced by everyday hardships, things that piss us off, positive times, memories, nostalgia etc. I think I put that there as it’s more to the fact that that is how we all met really.

You guys have done a few tours this year; do you guys take your boards with you on tour?

Yes! Half our time on tour is spent looking for skateparks, some that we could never travel to when we were younger, we skated Stoke Plaza a few times last year which was rad.

Giants' suitably decorated amp

What has been your favourite place to skate when you’ve been on the road?

I think as a group probably Stoke or Bristol, but recently we visited a plaza in Mansfield which was amazing! So many intelligently crafted little lines, it was sick!

Apart from a couple of rolled ankles or heel bruises not so much really! It’s always a bit of a worry as that sort of injury to hands or feet could prevent us from touring.

Probably a tough question, but if you guys had the choice between making a living from music or making a living from skateboarding, which would you choose?

Haha, that is actually probably the toughest question we’ve ever been asked. Erm, I am not sure. I would say it’s a lot harder to earn a living off of skateboarding, especially if you’re trying not to “sell out.”

You recently headed out to mainland Europe, the beer is cheap there and the scene even more crazy than ours… any interesting stories to tell us?!

Europe was one of the single most amazing experiences of our lives in this band, we had never been treated as kindly as we were out there. You can tell the passion for music out there is so strong. It still means something to the kids out there, they all help each other and are genuinely grateful that 5 smelly dudes playing in a punk band will cross an ocean to play in a room for them. There were so many funny stories from this tour, like we got so drunk on the first night after the first show as the venue manager gave us four crates of beer that our van got towed without us knowing. Also being our first time over there, with only one of our crew spoke very broken German, the language barrier presented so many funny situations… like when some Police officers told us we couldn’t skate in their car park as we will “make an accident on their cars.”

So what’s the latest on new material from the GIANTS camp?

We are releasing a mini-album entitled “These Are The Days” on the 17th of September, it will feature 9 tracks of our newest and best material to date. We have taken real time on these songs; we didn’t just write them in a month and record it the month after, some of them we have had with us for about a year. We’ve learned that you can only get to know your songs properly by playing them live extensively on the road, seeing how people react to them etc. If you liked our debut EP you will like this record a lot, the songs are faster, the riffs are bigger, the heavy parts are heavier but, we’ve taken into account what we’re best at and what we’re not and have therefore excluded the unnecessary.

We looked to our roots of whilst writing for the record, old skate-punk bands that we got into by playing Tony Hawks games like Pennywise, Offspring, Good Riddance, Rise Against as well as the modern hardcore/punk we’re all into like Comeback Kid, Pour Habit, Stick To Your Guns etc. and we feel that these songs reflect our band for what it is.

Neil D Kennedy and the guys at The Ranch Production House have done a sterling job with it, this record sounds exactly how a Giants record should sound.

You’ve got some dates lined up with We Are The Ocean, they have a slightly softer style, how are you going to win over their fan-base?

The lads in We Are The Ocean have been our best friends since school days, they live down the road from us and we both played our first shows together in different bands. To tour with our long time mates that we go to the pub with every Friday is going to be such a great experience we hadn’t really thought about this! I guess We Are The Ocean used to be a post-hardcore/screamo band, most of their fans are always asking for them to play the older material so I think we will do ok! Kids usually go mental for the heavier band on the bill at shows. Great Cynics are also an awesome punk band on that tour you should check them out!

Grab a free download of Giants anti-Scooter track ‘Snakes’ here.

Rack N Ruin interview

Rack n Ruin has been knocking out bangers for a couple of years now and with a string of hits under his belt including Soundclash, Righteous, Territory and more, he’s guaranteed to blast the speakers each and every time. As we gear up for the Crossfire Halloween Massacre, we had a quick chat with him to show you what to expect come the 28th.

You’ve been on the scene for a little while now and have mixed up sounds from Soundclash with Jessie Ware to Territory – do you just make tunes as you go along and see how they turn out? Or do you set out to make certain styles before you get going?

It depends really. Some days I have an idea in my idea and will stick to that but some days it’s just experimentation. If I’m working with a vocalist, we’ll generally get the vibe going together and then go from there.

You’ve done remixes for the likes of I Blame Coco and Nas/Damian Marley – how did they come about and do you approach them any differently from your own original beats?

Island Records approached me after hearing Soundclash and asked me to do some remixes, this then led to the work with Coco etc. I approach remixes in lots of ways, but usually I listen to the original and think of a way to make it more interesting and more suited to the dancefloor. It is different to making original tunes unless you start an original with a prominent sample.

There are loads of talented MCs out there, who have been the best you’ve worked with and are there any you still want to jump on one of your tracks?

P-Money is very talented and a fast writer. Old skool jungle dons like Navigator and Slarta John are also amazing. I’m very lucky to have worked with such sick MCs. I’d really like to work with some MCs from the States next.

How did you hook up with Black Butter Records and how good a fit are they for your tunes?

My manager runs the label and we’ve been there from the start of the label so it nice and my sound has progessed along with the label. I really like their output so it’s all good!

What are your top three tunes playing out at the moment?

Bax by Mosca, Signal by me and P-Money and everything by Hostage!

It’s the Crossfire Halloween Massacre you’re playing at, so who would be the last person you’d want to see trick or treating you when you open the door?

Evil clowns freak me out so probably one of them!

And money’s no object – what would you dress up as for the Ultimate Halloween outfit?

That’s a hard one. Always loved the Jason films so probably him, a bloody hockey mask!

Get on Rack N Ruin’s latest release below and find him of Facebook.

Introducing: The Pack a.d

Last week, 2 Canadian riot girls avoided the volcanic disruption caused by our Icelandic friends and spread their touring seed across the UK’s grottiest venues.

The Pack a.d are guitarist Becky Black and drummer/songwriter Maya Miller – two girls who love getting in a van, blowing the crap out of a venue with their blues soaked rock’n’roll and saying sayanara with a kiss before moving to the next town. We caught up with Maya as they were both leaving the country with a mouthful of Cornish Pasties.

Canadians huh?

Yes, I’m sorry, excuse me, after you, thanks, I’m sorry…

What other Canadian bands do you hang out with?

Bella Coola, Cree, but mostly we hang with Haida.

How did it all happen and when did you get this Pack A.D malarkey together?

Beer made it happen – the malarkey was the reason why we kept going with it.

What’s the deal with the name?

99 pence and it’s yours.

What other names went into the blender before you settled on this one?

Crotch Party, Freudian Slippers, The Ting Tings.

Why is there only 2 of you, can you not afford a bass player or a bloke to make you guys tea?

We can’t stand other people and they generally can’t stand us. We do have a spot open for a tea maker though…although he must be very good looking and not be Angela Lansbury.

What’s the deal with smashing up computers in your latest video?

The deal is that it’s a lot harder than you’d think. Also, beige computers are like beige bras – they shouldn’t exist.

How much of your life do you spend in a screen?

I’m glad you asked this. I think we should just admit now that we’re both holograms. My backside is actually a shark that swims when you bend it.

How embarrassing is that YouTube video ‘Know Your Band Mate’?! ha!

Well, if anyone knew that during the video, Becky peed herself a little, now that would definitely be embarrassing.

Do they really make you do those sorts of things in British Columbia?!

They made us do that one in some American state. In British Columbia they make us do things like knitting circles.

You like boys? If so what do you like/dislike about them?

We like boys. We like them when they will do anything we want. We dislike them when they will do anything we want…and also when they have Prince Valiant haircuts.

How often do you hang out at Skateparks picking up kids in sofas?

Ask the police. I believe they have that information on file.

Explain the process of recording this album compared to the Funeral Mixtape..

We recorded the album in two different sessions which was a big change- also we decided to master it with our friend, Jim Diamond, in Detroit. We didn’t really know how that would go but were very pleased with the results. Other than that…two words…tam…bo.

If you had to pick a song each to the be played as your casket rolls down into the flames what tune would you both pick?

Maya: Toxic by Britney Spears.

Becky: The Final Countdown by Europe.

How many deer’s get killed listening to your music every week on average?

Honestly, I hope none and for this reason, I strongly suggest not allowing Deer to listen to our music. Take the iPod’s out of their hooves. Besides, most Deer I talk to seem to prefer Lady Gaga.

What’s the best story that you have on the road from your mammoth amount of touring?

After a drink-heavy show somewhere in the US, Becky threw up repeatedly into a tiny cup and after every puke, emptied it out the window of our moving van. Not a drop of puke in the van or on her.

Haha! Do you cat fight in transit?

We cat juggle in transit and then use the proceeds to get one cornish pasty and split it.

Any words of wisdom for skateboarders?

Skater boys should skate to our shows because they’re hot. But they should not drink and skate after because it’s just depressing.

On that note let’s drink. Look out for these 2 on your travels, they pack the blues and have an album out right now. Click here for the goods.

Jaguar Love interview

Formed out of the remains of seminal post-hardcore outfit The Blood Brothers, Jaguar Love wouldn’t be the first name you’d attach to an album like Hologram Jams. While Johnny Whitney’s screeching vocals are difficult to mistake, the record is bursting with giddy pop hooks and lively synth melodies.

Of course, the band had laid down these foundations on their debut; but while the critically acclaimed Take Me to the Sea was a departure from the relentlessness of The Blood Brothers, it was still essentially a guitar record. With Hologram Jams, however, the band has announced themselves as an authentic pop force. Crossfire caught up with Jaguar Love’s Cody Votolato to find out all about the new album released this Monday.

How are you finding life as duo?

It’s been really great! Johnny and I have been writing music together for over 12 years. It’s the first time I’ve ever collaborated with just one other person on something, but I think that after so many years we have set up a foundation with a really supportive working relationship both artistically and mentally. It’s been really fun traveling with just one other person as well, although we do now have a live drummer.

Was it strange to be working with a drum machine for the first time?

Definitely. I had never used Reason or Logic which are the two programs we used for Hologram Jams. Johnny had written the Neon Blonde record in Reason so he had much more experience with it than me. It was daunting but I just dove in and figured it out. The first song I came up with via drum machine was Everything is Awesome. It was really cool, because I wasn’t totally sure what I was doing, but was still able to compose a song. There are really just a few things you need to know in order to get a foundation going. I remember being pretty amped about it once I was done. The flood gates pretty much opened up from there and I spent the next few months writing everyday…

What were the reasons behind your switch from Matador to Fat Possum?

It’s a pretty good story actually. I was hanging out with Brit Daniel at SxSW last year and we figured out that his publicist was the same as The Blood Brothers back in the day. He called her up and we all met up to hang. I hadn’t seen her in a long time and catching up I told her that Matador was on the fence about whether or not they wanted to pick up our next record. She was close with the owner of Fat Possum and brought him out to our show the next day at Beauty Bar. It was the same show that Matador was at to check out our new vibe and see if they were into it. I only met Matthew from Fat Possum briefly after the show as they were all quickly off to check out Andrew Bird who is another Fat Possum artist. Johnny and I were sort of in limbo after that wondering whether or not Matador was gonna pick up the record. I got a call a few days later that they were gonna pass. We knew that Matthew liked the show so we reached out. We got home from tour and immediately started working on demos to get him some music. It wasn’t long before we were talking details and confirmed to release Hologram Jams on Fat Possum…Stoked.

What would you say are the key differences between Hologram Jams and Take Me to the Sea?

The most obvious one is the fact that there are no live drums. The electronic feel of Hologram Jams is much different than that of Take Me to the Sea. Aside from that, I think that there is a much heavier pop influence at the core of Hologram Jams that didn’t resonate as much on Take Me to the Sea. Take Me to the Sea has a much more “rock” flavor to it.

After the Blood Brothers re-issues on Epitaph last year, what are your feelings towards that band now?

Nothing but awesome fucking feelings towards the Blood Brothers!

Are you still in contact with the other members of Blood Brothers? And what do you think of Past Lives?

Yeah, totally. I just went and saw them play at Doug Fir in Portland a few weeks ago. They were great!

Was Jaguar Love always intended to be a pop-orientated project?

Yes. Definitely.

There also seems to be a significant hip hop influence on the new record, was that intentional?

We both have always been really into hip hop music. I would say that it had a pretty big impact on this record. I love Dr Dre. The song I mentioned earlier was totally inspired by The Games “Hate it or Love It.” I remember listening to in the shower and thinking, “I wanna song that feels as good as this song does.” Not that Everything is Awesome is as feel good or as good as the production on that song, but it definitely inspired it.

What are the central lyrical themes and concepts on Hologram Jams?

There are several lyrical themes on Hologram Jams including but not limited to;

1. Senseless Jubilation
2. Finding Joy in even the most inexplicable tragedies
3. Cherry Soda and creating new colors from its inevitable regurgitation
4. Exploding Plants
5. Ugly but adorable undersea invertebrate
6. Basement house parties
7. Fun.

How has your live show evolved since dropping down to a two-piece?

Well, we spent all of last year performing as the two-piece. I think it worked in the right atmospheres, but not always. It’s sometimes hard to pull of a two piece and not appear like you are singing karaoke, Haha. We recently found a drummer and have played about four shows with him. I’m pretty sure from here on out we will have live drums. It’s just more fun for everyone involved – band and audience alike. It brings up the vibe considerably I’d say.

Any new records that you’re excited about, or you want to plug?

There is a band from Australia called Young Heretics that only have an EP out right now. It’s called Dreamers, but I have a copy of their unreleased album that is really good. My older brother Rocky Votolato’s new record, True Devotion, just came out the week before ours did in the US too, which is really great.

Finally, what’s next for Jaguar Love?

We’re in the beginning of a US tour taking us back through SxSW into mid April…then hopefully… Europe bound in may…. After that I’m really excited about playing Sasquatch festival in the NorthWest!

See Jaguar Love live this May 2010 at the following dates:

21 May – Stag & Dagger – London
22 May – Stag & Dagger – Glasgow
23 May – Night & Day – Manchester
24 May – Hoxton Bar & Kitchen – London
25 May – Bar Academy – Birmingham

The Dangerous Summer interview

Maryland’s The Dangerous Summer have been quietly building a following in the UK with their ultra melodic brand of pop-rock.

Uplifting and melancholic in equal measures, the band are influenced by classic bands of the genre such as Jimmy Eat World and their sound has the potential to propel them to the bigtime as they prepare to hit the UK for a run of shows at the end of this month.

We caught up with guitarist Cody Payne ahead of their UK invasion…

What have you been up to since your formation? Why have we not heard that much about you on this side of the Atlantic?

We have just been touring so much in the US and Canada, we are still trying very hard to make a name for ourselves over here while at the same time trying to get our name out over there so that when we do get a chance to tour over there we will have fans coming out and knowing the songs. We are excited to finally be making our way to the UK at the end of April.

What inspired your debut album ‘Reach For The Sun’ and where did the title originate from?

We just wrote a lot of this album during a sort of dark time for us as a band, we hadn’t been touring, a lot of people had forgotten about us so we were just home and decided we were going to make the best album we could and hope that people like it. It was just supposed to be a positive title about getting through our dark days.

How long did it take to write and record?

We spent probably 3-4 months writing the album and then another month recording it. A lot of the vocals and lyrics were written in the studio as well as a lot of the music. In my opinion we were very unprepared but somehow it seemed to work out for the better.

How was the process?

Writing and recording RFTS was fun, it was scary because it was our debut album and obviously that is a critical point in a bands career, it’s either when you can blow up or you can be put on the back burner, and most of the bands that are put on the back burner don’t really see the day of another album. It was definitely exciting though because we feel that we are good at creating the sound that we play, we feel that we write very well together so we knew it was going to turn out awesome, especially with Paul Leavitt producing it with us.

Which bands have influenced The Dangerous Summer and who would you most like to tour / play with?

So many types of bands have influenced us over the years, the obvious ones being Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World, Millencolin and more recently we listen to bands like Against Me, Tegan and Sara, Passion Pit, Phoenix, MGMT, Death Cab For Cutie and a ton more.

What do you like and dislike about touring?

I love almost everything about touring, it’s awesome, it’s pretty stress free for the most part. The bad parts aren’t really even that bad, like not showering every day, not making a lot of money (hopefully this won’t always be the case), not being able to sleep in a bed every night. When it comes down to it, it’s always worth it and I would always rather be on the road rather than at home doing basically nothing.

What are you looking forward to about hitting the UK?

Definitely, coming over to the UK was one of our main priorities especially with our album about to come out over there. We have never toured over there but we know there are a lot of people who already have our album that are listening and that would be there as soon as we announce some dates. It’s hard to make it happen when you are a small band but we’ve done it!

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

We are just going to be writing a lot and touring when we have the right offers. We will definitely tour more in the US and Canada, hopefully gonna make it to Australia as well. We will probably finish writing the next full length and hopefully record it as well!

What do you hope to achieve in 2010?

We just want to see ourselves further along than we are right now. We don’t really set any strict goals to meet, we just like to see that we are making progress and until that progress stops, we will continue to make music and travel the world.

Are there other bands from the US that the UK might not have been introduced to yet but should know about?

Weatherbox!!

The Dangerous Summer release their debut album ‘Reach For The Sun’ in the UK on 12th April 2010 and they head over here shortly after that for the following dates with Hopeless labelmates Anarbor:

Apr 26 Sugarmill, Stoke
Apr 27 Academy 2, Birmingham
Apr 28 Academy 2, Bristol
Apr 29 Club Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Apr 30 Academy 2, Liverpool
May 1 Academy 3, Manchester
May 2 King Tuts, Glasgow
May 3 Academy 2, Newcastle
May 4 Civic Bar, Wolverhampton
May 6 Kings College, London

www.myspace.com/thedangeroussummer
www.twitter.com/dangeroussummer

The Lawrence Arms Interview

The Lawrence Arms are heading over to UK soil shortly for the first time in a long time.Their unique brand of pop-punk will be tearing up the following venues with many a singalong guaranteed.

We grabbed a few words with vocalist and enigma Brendan Kelly about touring, the creative process and even the state of the music industry in anticipation of their visit.

What are you most looking forward to about your forthcoming UK trip?

Just getting over there’s gonna be great. It’s been too long. We love you guys. That American revolution stuff is water under the bridge as far as the three of us are concerned.

Would you ever replicate the tour that had The Falcon and Sundowner as support acts over here in the UK?

Sure. There are no plans as of now, but that was a really fun tour.

Any tales to tell from previous UK tours?

Not really. We have fun where ever we go, so it’s not easy to just recall things based on region. The first time we ever sold out a show anywhere was in London at the Verge. That’s real cool.

Who would be your ideal tour buddies? And why?

Touring with the Alkaline Trio is always fun. They’re some of our best friends and they’re hugely popular, which makes for easy shows for us.

Name 5 essential items you always take on tour with you:

Uh…jeez. Underpants, books, socks. That’s really it. I’ve toured without phones, without pillows without i-pods. Underpants, books and socks though, are necessities.

Which albums can you listen to on repeat for days on end without getting bored of them?

None. Potempkin City Limits is pretty close. So’s Lemon Jelly’s Lost Horizons. Out Come The Wolves is also close if I reduce it to just the nine best songs.

What new music are you currently enjoying?

The new album by the Menzingers called Chamberlain Waits. It’s fucking amazing.

Can we expect any new material from the band in 2010? What form do you think it will take if so? Full-length, EP or single?

We’ve got no plans right now. I know we’re all busy and we’re all compulsive when it comes to making stuff, so whether it’s a new Lawrence Arms record or just a bunch of other crap, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from all of us this year.

How does it feel being in the band 10 years on from its inception? Do ideas and songs flow easier or is it more effort to come up with original stuff these days?

It’s harder, but we’re better at it, so there’s a trade off. A big thing is that now we’re all grown ups and we don’t have the luxury of sitting around drinking beer and strumming guitars all day. We’ve got shit we have to do, which understandably impedes the creative process. That’s the biggest difference, I think.

In your opinion, what have been the most significant changes in the way music works since your band begun? How do you think these effect consumer and artist?

Everything has changed. It’s not really a viable career anymore unless you’re extremely lucky. Labels are shutting down. The internet has become the main driving force behind distro, advertising, everything. I mean, the whole thing is different. That’s like asking what the biggest difference in the earth is since it was just a ball of molten gas.

Make sure you check out them out on their upcoming tour:

23/03 – Unit, Southampton
24/03 – Croft, Bristol
25/03 – Cavern, Exeter
26/03 – Islington Academy, London
27/03 – Academy 3, Birmingham
28/03 – Crown Festival, Middlesborough
29/03 – Boiler Room, Guildford
30/03 – Cathouse, Glasgow
31/03 – Cockpit, Leeds
01/04 – Barfly, Cardiff
02/04 – Speakeasy, Belfast
03/04 – Whelans, Dublin

Find The Lawrence Arms on Myspace here.

Far interview

Legendary emo originators Far are back in the game with their first album in over a decade, At Night We Live, slated to be released in the next few months.

The band initially reformed in 2008 under the pseudonym Hot Little Pony and recorded a whimsical cover of Ginuwine’s 90s hit Pony which was posted on here. Little did they know that they would go on to craft a whole new album of material over the next year and a half.

These guys are the real deal. Genuine straight-up rock. The likes of Fall Out Boy may have found inspiration in Far’s musical output but emo as a genre in the 90s was far-removed from what it has now become. We grabbed a chat with vocalist Jonah Matranga ahead of a special UK picturedisc release of the band’s Ginuwine cover which is released 1st February on Bright Antenna Records.

What are the differences between being in Far the first time around and being in the band as it is since the reunion?

The band doesn’t have to be our gang, our therapist and our job all at once. It’s just 4 guys that have been through a lot together, having fun making music, without all the pressure and confusion that can come with RockWorld.

What made you decide to kick off this opus of Far with the Ginuwine cover? Why Ginuwine?

I don’t even consider Pony a Far song. I love it, super-proud of it, but it’s a Hot Little Pony song. We made it for our joke band’s MySpace page, and it became the most popular thing we ever did. Too funny, how life works. Anyway, as with anything, just happy that people care about it and dig it. It’ll probably be on the record, but the rest of the record is REALLY the new Far.

What was the response like to the MySpace you set up for ‘Hot Little Pony’ and how were the shows you played under that name?

That was so much fun. Things got more confusing and stressful for a while when Pony blew up, but we’ve settled down. Those first shows and all the fake articles and stuff were a blast.

How did it feel getting together as a band again to write the new record?

Shaun and I wrote the record together, basically via e-mail. It was fun to work with Shaun that way, we’d never done anything like it, just sending stuff back and forth. Then Johnny & Chris came in and did their thing. Minimal rehearsal room time, maximum creativity. Good stuff.

Did everything click as you were writing / recording?

Jonah: Yea, it all flowed really well. We just took our time and let it come.

What can we expect from Far in 2010? Any trips to the UK in the works?

Jonah: No idea what the touring plans are, but UK has always been and will always be at the top of the list of where to go for a great show.

What similarities and differences are there between At Night We Live and your earlier body of work?

It just can’t help but be Far. The sound us four make is just its own thing. There aren’t any two Far albums that sound the same (or songs, even, really), so this is definitely Far, but we had no desire to try to sound like anything that came before. We just rocked it as we do.

Did you feel the pressure in creating the new album seeing as albums like Water And Solutions have come to be recognized as seminal in the emotional rock world?

Nope. Zero pressure. We’ve always been a band driven by making something that we’re proud of, no matter whether others like it or not. As it should be.

What do you think about all the other bands that seem to be reuniting at the moment? What are the right reasons to get back together? 2009 saw a bunch of reunions including Rage Against The Machine, Blur, Blink 182, Faith No More, Sunny Day Real Estate…

It’s interesting. I always thought our generation had too many bands that stopped too soon, which I thought was kinda cool, really. I never expected Far would be playing again, maybe it’s the same for them. All I can say is that I know we’re not in it for nostalgia or the cash or whatever. Just fun.

Which new bands stand out to you as being particularly good?

Band Of Horses, Dirty Projectors, Lil Wayne, Kanye, The Campbell Apartment…That’s enough for now!

How important is it for you to continue championing the 7” and vinyl in general as a recorded music format?

Vinyl’s so great. I’ve been ripping a lot of my old vinyl into mp3s, it’s so fun to hear hiss and pop on my iPod.

Conversely, how do you feel about embracing new technologies in the music industry?

The technology has never mattered, it’s what we give to it. TV can be the best and the worst, so can the internet. I’m always curious about what’s next, and lots of times a little sad about how badly we fuck it up, but hey, that’s being human. Onward.

You can catch up with all things Far on their MySpace, their official site and their tweetings!

Young Offenders interview

The Young Offenders are Tim, Dougie, Jason and Pete, they are based in San Francisco. Regulars of this blog probably know them and know the music so you already know how good they are but maybe one day they will head over here to play but I have some doubts about that happening soon so get saving and get to S.F. quick!

In the meantime check out this quick interview with Jason and Tim by Jono Atkinson and then listen to some great tunes at their Myspace page…

You guys are based in SF but like the city itself its members are from far away ports such as London and Belfast so how did these individuals separated by half the world come together?

Jason: In a bar, of course. I met Tim and Dougie through mutual friends. One night we were drunk in a bar about four years ago and Tim said he and Dougie and some other bloke were playing music and asked if I wanted to play. I hadn’t picked up a guitar in five years, but liked these guys enough to say what the hell and give it a try.

Tim: I’m from Cornwall, married a yank. Dougie is from Belfast and we can’t seem to get rid of him!! I’ve been here 8 years and met Jason through mutual friends. Me and Dougie asked Jason to come jam when we were ripped up in a bar, for some reason he agreed. Pete has been a friend of my wife Karen’s family since they were kids, as soon as we met started talking about playing music together. I imagine we will be playing music in some form together forever.

How long has the band been together in this form and are the four members all original? I think there is some history for all the members of the band, what are your musical roots and bands before you became the Young Offenders?

Jason: My musical roots are varied, I grew up in the Los Angeles area listening to lots of punk, new wave, post punk, indie and rock music from the 60s and 70s. I think the other guys in the band have been lifelong lovers of hardcore and punk, but I’d be lying if I claimed to be one myself. I loved Crass, Government Issue, Dead Kennedys and other bands with a political bent, but most punk and hardcore I found to be boring and repetitive, and the scene tired and uninspired. Tim, Dougie and The Ox have introduced me to a ton of music I’ve never heard that has completely made me change my mind about that. I missed some good bands because I was doing my own thing. That’s one of the main reasons I love being in this band, everyone is still listening to music and excited about it. We introduce each other to new stuff all the time. My only other band was an indie band called Dolores Haze that played in San Francisco in the late 1990s. We released a couple of albums on a friends label.

Tim: Me, Dougie and Pete played together sporadically doing Negative Approach and Jerrys Kids covers. Then we got back together and wrote some tunes, Jason jumped in really brought the last piece to the puzzle. The best thing about this band is that it couldn’t function without all four people. We all bring something different both as people and ‘musicians’ that somehow really works for us. It’s great that some folks dig it too, but the four of us having fun still, and always will, come first. I’ve been in bands since I was a kid (5 Minute Fashion, Totenhaus, Nerves, Stockholm Syndrome)… I’ve done some records and whatnot and all the times with my previous bands have great memories. I grew up in the arse-end of England (Cornwall) on a diet of ACDC, Iron Maiden and Motorhead thanks to an older brother. At around 11 I discovered punk and hardcore and my life changed. Pete was in the Loudmouths for a long time and has played with tons of other people over the years… too many to mention. Dougie did stuff in Belfast but this is the first band he has recorded with…

Tim, I know your musical taste is very broad and your knowledge of music is John Peel like in its depth so how much of this influences what you do in the Young Offenders? How much input in writing comes from each member, I mean are the lyrics down to one person and the music to another or is it more of a group thing?

Jason: We all write songs, I bring in songs, Dougie brings in songs and Tim brings in stuff depending on how busy we are. No matter who starts it, everyone has input into the final product. I don’t think we have a principal “songwriter” … if someone starts a song it definitely changes as everyone adds their own stamp on it.

Tim: When I was a kid I was going to bed listening to John Peel on the radio playing Ripcord and Heresy but also the Bhundu Boys, Orbital and the Wedding Present. It took a while to sink in but because of that I appreciate all kinds of music. Having Dougie living with me opened my eyes and ears to all kinds of shit. I am much more vocal about my music loves (and hates), but it is definitely Dougie who has the greatest breath and knowledge of music of anyone I know. He can go from Cat Stevens to Infest without breaking stride. When we are out together we are as likely to be at the front of a Never Healed show as on the floor throwing spins at a Northern soul night or getting down to Detroit Techno.

Once I realized that there are merits to all kinds of music I just started soaking everything up. I’m an obsessive whether it’s music, bikes or whatever… I do it 100% – I’ve been collecting records for a long time… and loooooove them!! Theres plenty of stuff I don’t like… but more that I do, from African psych to folk….black metal to powerpop. My heart will always be with punk rock though…it’s what I know best! We all like different music and the fact that we had no real boundries when we started the band it kind of let’s us do whatever we want. Because of that I think our sound is kinda unique… On the way to a show we are probably talking about the new Malcolm Middleton LP! We all fire each other up about new bands too… of all genres. Our ‘writing style’ is pretty organic. We all write songs together. Usually Dougie or Jason come up with the main riffs and then we all jump in and tear it apart. I’m usually the one that says ‘shorter…faster…’!

Your discography is getting longer and with an album in the pipeline too, give me a rough list of releases so far…..

Demo (tape and cd…long gone)
7” on Art Of the Underground (sold out)
7” EP On Parts Unknown
7” on Deranged a couple of reviews
Split 12” on 625 with Giant Haystacks.

Later this year we are going to record for another 12” for Deranged and Dirtnap is going to be putting out an LP/CD of our 7”s. After that? Who knows.

Looks from here you have plenty going on with a ton of gigs coming up, how regular are you playing in San Francisco? I saw you played twice at a festival in Texas, that must have been a hectic weekend what with all the other amazing bands that played, looked like it ran from Wednesday to Sunday at multiple venues, did you get to see much of the rest of it? Playing at home or playing away?? Do you prefer playing to your friends who know all the songs or a fresh crowd out of town who know none of it?

Jason: Texas was amazing. I saw a ton of bands, none of which I’d seen before. Bands I was blown away by at Chaos in Tejas: Pierced Arrows, Hex Dispensers, XYX, Strange Boys, Destino Final, Manikin and Cock Sparrer.

Tim: We seldom play SF… just for an occasion, the last time was a benefit for MRR and a new all ages show space. We usually just play when our friends bands are on tour. Chaos In Tejas was amazing…. 65 bands over 4 days… insane. We were lucky to get asked cos we are friends with Timmy Hefner who does the whole fucking thing. I had the most fun just hanging with my friends… I missed a lot of bands, but that’s ok, I had a great time.

Band highlights? Hex Dispensers, Destino Final, Cock Sparrer, Judgement, Amebix, No Tolerance, Pierced Arrows, Skitkids and Sacred Shock at 4am in a warehouse. I like playing parties at home and I love been away for a few days with the crew. We are about to head down to San Diego for the North Park Awesome Fast which is 3 days – 60 bands,,, insane. Toys That Kill, Tiltwheel, Grabbass Charlestons…. Too many to mention… should be a blast!!! We have been lucky to play with some of my favorite bands and have become friends with some amazing people thanks to the band.

How does the band tie in with everything else you do? I guess you are all busy so does the band come way down the list? Is a tour on the cards. How do you manage to fit in everything else; family man, work, cycling, maximum RnR, listening to music and reading, all time consuming on their own, I’m amazed whatever the answer is??

Jason: Tim and Pete have two kids each, and I can’t believe they do it. I work a full time job and have a wife, but other than that it’s pretty easy for me to work it in.

Tim: The band is one of the most important things that I do. I have 2 kids and work a lot so we don’t have much time to do it, but when we do its really fun. I see it as a necessary break from my normal life – it gives me a chance to unwind and hang out with my best friends, and jam some tunes while we are at it! The best thing about the band is that we are all busy and old so we just do what we can do…no stress. We won’t tour, we neither have time nor inclination. I am more of a sprinter than marathon runner so a crazy weekend away suits me fine. I’m sure we’ll do a couple of road trips a year.

We are planning on Texas again, not to play the main fest, but a party with the Hex Dispensers. My wife is very forgiving and these days I spent very little time just sitting in the pub (tho I’d like to)…I realize I have limited time so I try and get as much done as I can. I’m taking my bike to San Diego…so I can rage, play and ride all in one weekend!!

What happened at the video shoot and when is that going to surface, looked like fun in the boxcar, how did all that come about? What song was it for?

Jason: Our friend Jon liked our song “Big Cities” and decided to spend time and money making a video. I still can’t believe he did that. Thanks Jon.

Tim: Jon asked. We said yes. He delivered. The video is done and Jon did an amazing job…

YOUNG OFFENDERS: Big Cities from Yogurt NYC on Vimeo.

How does skating fit in these days? How about Pete and his skating?

Jason: I can’t skate, but surf regularly. Falling on water is much better than concrete when yer 38.

Tim: I pretty much hung up my board, but have been rolling around a bit recently now that my boy is starting to skate. Pete ‘the Ox’ Colpitts still rips when he can, he’s been hurt a bit recently but still blows minds. He is sponsored by Felem in Japan and goes over there to skate each year. Watching Pete skate still makes my jaw drop. Dude is a stone cold legend.

Any side projects either in making music, playing it, putting on gigs, label, radio??

Tim: Well, me and Dougie write for MRR, I put on the odd show for friends. I edit bike films for some friends here in SF and do a blog. I’d love to do more music but just don’t have time. I’ve been talking with Jon (who did the vid) about making some music with him but so far I have been lagging…..!!

Check out the Young Offenders at their Myspace page.