The Magic Gang / 02 Birmingham

The Magic Gang / Live at the 02, Birmingham / 02/10/2016

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It’s been just over two years since I originally saw the magic gang whilst they supported Swim Deep; nobody was familiar with them and the only person singing their lyrics could have been their mum. From then until now they’ve been to Jamaica recording an EP, and played a number of raucous house parties in their home town of Brighton. Now they have a large following of barely-legal teens clad up in their converse and mom jeans. Being a post-teen alone could be an aetiological reason for adoring this band, since their lyrics cover a lot of the angst and issues we experience as young people.

Magic Gang’s gigs are purely magical in their entirety, even down to the support acts being carefully chosen to complement the crowd. “Island” warm up the room initially, their grinding fuzz broken up by a calm serenity and hush tones which are sure to get your shoulders swaying. Next it’s the turn of band “Babeheaven” who’s soulful funk leave you twinging at the hip as you twist and tap your toes. This audiological foreplay leaves us with just enough time before the main performance to have a quick cig’ down the fire escape and grab another pint.

Entering the room again just as the lights dim and the room falls to silence before the band waltz out to new-ish track “Lady Please”, the eclectic crowd of youth lights up with glee, greeted by an applause and chants of “The Magic Gang Bang” being both a nod to the wistful charm of their songs and a satirical play on words. Other songs from their EP such as “Jasmine” entice the crowd into a synchronised bop, overlaid with the occasional sporadic crowd-surfer, their shoe gaze chime in somewhat of a juxtaposition to what is happening in this room at this very moment.

New released “All This Way” is definitely one of the most favoured songs of the set as it acts almost in retrospect, written on the cornerstone as you begin to pick apart the relationship you’re getting into, an aspect of paranoia or simplistic observations settling themselves under your skin.

Much of their second EP follows this theme whilst keeping a beat that in complete contrast is filled with melodic overtones and clean riffs. Earlier hits such as “No Fun” and “Shallow” which seem to have more of a grunge influence cause absolute chaos in this small, intimate, almost cavern like venue; bodies skewing sight as they float over head, narrowly avoiding security as the front bellows their bodies backwards, away from the sprawling hands of the high-viz fun interferers.

The Magic Gang are not a force to be reckoned with as they’ve gradually earnt and accumulated an almost cult like following that will sing along to whichever track you throw at them. Staggering and saturated in sweat or stella we stagger from the door back onto our coach, left in a state of euphoria and regret that we cannot live that experience every waking minute of our day.

Words: Henry Calvert
Photo: Zoe Shannon

Behind the blag of Blag Rock DIY

Photos: Rich West / Red Bull UK

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Brighton’s skate scene has a pirate mentality. It always felt like walking the plank dropping into the Level back in the late 80s, you never knew whether you would be eaten alive by the Pig City locals, or walk away stoned and happy. That usually depended on what you had in your locker, what you could put down and leave on their turf – if you could get a run, that is.

The Pig City legacy from 1986 is one of hard graft, it carries a never-say-die attitude like a warning flag still fluttering in the English Channel winds. This summer, David Wheatland and Justin ‘Pasty’ Ashbury‘s latest DIY crew were on a mission to build Brighton locals a new home. Blag Rock was born and now sits tightly against the the beach getting sessioned when weather allows. Wheatland has spent the last few months arguing online with local shops about bucket collections and DIY ethics but local vibes and opinions aside, these guys made it happen with whatever they had to hand and nailed it.

David, please spill the beans on your DIY past for those not in the know.

Pig City, as a lot of your readers will already know, is the name that relates to our city, the skate scene, the establishment and the skate company here in Brighton. We’ve been creating DIY places to skate since day one of the UK skate scene and our city has a mass of history spanning four decades. I’ve enjoyed many years of DIY experience starting back in the early 90’s helping the older guys make their DIY mini ramps in Shoreham-by-Sea but we have guys in our DIY crew like Justin Ashby who also made the Level vert ramp back in the day with the infamous Pig City boys.

DIY spots come and go sadly, but how do you fund them at this level?

Our last spot was amazing but sadly got taken down, so this year we really went for it to get a rad spot that we could secure from being ripped down early. Last year we took part in the Red Bull DIY build your own spot comp and we worked with a local shop that got us the concrete and tools for free. I manage the boys and make sure I get them stuff and I been getting all the donations for them with tools and supplies.

Ph: Nick Roberts nose bonks on the Blag.

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How did finding the land at Blag Rock take shape?

I went with Fay from the Level to check out this ‘Black Rock’ spot after a local council worker and friend Ricardo said the site was available to use for a temporary “exhibit space”, so Rick and Fay set up a meeting with the seafront officer. We drove there to meet the council at the spot and to my surprise and excitement, I spotted potential building materials we could ever need there. Tons and tons of sand and hard core, pallets, scaffolding, sheets and sheets of thick ply and piles of 2×4 long lengths of timber. Without saying a word, we discussed what was required to rent/lease this nearly 100m secure compound. The main thing we needed next was was insurance. We tried to get quotes but we knew we would run out of time as there was a few companies wanting to use this spot, namely the Brighton Marina building company who we later end up calling Hanson. Pretty much all of the boys were like “fuck this, we need to get building and can’t be arsed with going the legitimate route of building at this spot”, so we pretty much went rouge and got cracking.

A video posted by @jakesparham on

So you didn’t have to sign any paper work or actually rent the area then? How did they not notice what was occurring then?

They did, but the sea front office lady was nice and the building company site director turned out to be an old friend of Danny Wainwright. We had this imaginary scale that just went up and up, a chart of how much this spot had to give over the months of build time.

If in doubt just put it in Peter Hewitt’s name.

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Who designed the layout, or did you just build as you went along?

It naturally just came into shape. We first started with a test build to check out this type of sand we have never previously used, but first, we needed shelter from the wind to chill in and skin up. Actually, the main reason is that we needed to find somewhere for Pasty to sleep, so we started off by building Pasty’s shed.

Ah, good old Pasty eh, the skateboarder with a thousand stories. I’m sure you have a few…

Haha! I have a few for sure, but Ladislav Guzsela, the site manager, told me he got knock on the door on the morning of the caravan demolition. He’d been given a short amount of time to remove his stuff and tried to wake Pasty up. As he opened his eyes, he declared that “none of this shit is mine” and went back to sleep. When Ladi left, the demolition guy said, “I’d better go and make sure no one is in there before they put a JCB through it”. When the guy went in there check, Justin was still asleep under a cover. Close call.

Pasty: Yeah, I wasn’t gonna move until Ladi smashed the window on me where I was sleeping. I wasn’t happy. I started smashing shit up while Ladi was freaking out shouting: “Get up, the bailiffs are here!”

Ladislav: The council asked as to leave the place and we didn’t so they evicted us from the caravans and after 2 weeks they brought a machine in and destroyed the trailers, where I was living with Adam {Moog). At the time loads of traveler’s where set up the road so little pikies were destroying our ramps. I let the dog chase them out.

Get to know Blag Rock from this new edit featuring Stevie Thompson and more.

Usually these things come and go so quickly, have then been threats of losing it to other locals wanting the space?

We were at the spot building just three days in when we heard that it was going to be taken over by a building company, by a guy squaring up one of the two large caravans on site. The caravans had been there for just over a year, used by a sand sculpture guy who used this area for sand creations. This guy was really sound and gave use a spare key for the gate, giving us easy access door that opened up right onto our build. We asked the guy about using the caravan next door to him and after a few days getting to know us he give Moog. Ladi and Pasty the key. Really sick van, we were so stoked.

By this time we had three quarter pipes, a pump bump and a big bit of floor space completed and our tool shed was looking sweet. We were cracking on when two guys start walking over wearing high viz apparel looking all official. We chatted to them about who we are what we doing and he told us that the site director for the building company in the Marina and that he had a massive project on the go. They wanted this land for open storage, so we asked if it’s going effect our little corner, and he said it will in a month or so, until he gets the land. As an old friend of Wainwright’s, he wouldn’t do anything to our spot with chatting to us about it, which was nice. So we’ve had it since then and seen many sessions go down.

Were any of the obstacles given local names?

We have a corner curb stone that we put in the corner as a wally transfer, which we called the hernia affair.

Where is the spot at now in terms of build?

Black Rock has been used by graf artists all round the country for 20 years, also there have been many illegal raves here so building in this spot just felt right. This place is like a desert with a fort round it. The spot was hard work for sure, but it’s come together at last. It’s a great place to chill out by the beach.

To this day it’s constantly being modified and worked on every other week. It now has cobbled coping, a big wally gap and a new drain has been laid in the deep end. We had a amazing time on this spot and I was stoked to see so many skaters pro’s and bro’s come from all over to skate it. Some of them coming down and not even going to the new Level park, just us! Next year we will get a new spot somewhere rad in Pig City, watch this space.

Follow Pig City on Facebook and pick up their clothing from this online shop. Also be aware of the fund raiser that is currently running in Brighton to help fund a new indoor park, your donations will be gratefully received.

Gang

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‘Eye Garden’

We first crossed swords with Brighton via Canterbury trio Gang earlier this year after they dropped their sledgehammer of a single,’ Silverback’, in January. Since then they’ve whirled through London peddling a fine set of sludge jams to a growing audience, so it’s with great pleasure we find live favourite ‘Eye Garden’ as their next move.

Showcasing the song writing talents of drummer Jimi, as his other-worldly vocal spook entwines with his brother and guitarist Eric’s, ‘Eye Garden’ creeps and crawls deep into your musical psyche via unhinged harmonies and dark, warbled guitar tones.

Introducing: GANG

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Brighton via Canterbury fuzz peddlers, GANG, knocked our socks off with their screeching octofuzz prowess earlier this year, steaming past our peripherals with their electric new single ‘Silverback’. Upon delving deeper into their SoundCloud pages we found a treasure trove of mind bending noise, and managed to catch up with them to talk all things psych, and ask what’s next for this exciting new trio.

For those who haven’t heard your music before, how would you describe Gang in a sentence?

Gloomy tunes.

How, when and why did you three gentlemen come to be the Gang that you are?

We (Eric & Jimi) are brothers so we met when Eric was born. We met Joe two weeks before our first gig, and he stood in for another guy on bass who had drilled a hole through his hand. We kept Joe around for his perfect hands and his firm grip.

Is there one album/artist in particular that without, the band might never have come to be?

gang_featureTy Segall’s Twins was a big one for us because it opened us up to a lot of modern garage and psych music. Other than that we like a lot of different stuff – 60s psych/garage/pop (Gandalf, The Doors, King Crimson etc.), 70s Metal & punk (loads of Sabbath), 80s alternative rock (anything associated with Steve Albini like Slint and Pixies etc. and many others) leading into 80s/90s Seattle grunge.

There’s so much good underground music at the moment, probably because mainstream music is so dire right now. A band called Wand from California are tickling our pickles the most at the moment. We also listen to an unhealthy amount of stoner rock like Eyehategod, Electric Wizard and Melvins.

Your hometown has such a rich musical history, are there any particular Canterbury-scene bands you look to as influences?

Yeah, the way they all experimented with sonics was so sick. Joe’s dad was drinking buddies with Caravan, and Hugh Hopper from Soft Machine used to come round to Eric & Jimi’s dad’s little studio. We totally ripped Gong’s name by accident too.

So what made you up sticks from Canterbury and head south to Brighton?

Jimi had just finished his English Degree so the other two moved down after Joe got sacked for drinking too much tequila one night and rolling around on the floor. There wasn’t any music scene going on in Canterbury, though Margate in Kent started having some rad shows courtesy of Art’s Cool. We just moved down to be beside the seaside with our beloved drummer. That’s when we properly got our act together as a band because we were all in the same place, we hadn’t done much before that. That was exactly a year ago last month. Happy moving anniversary.

How would you describe Brighton’s music scene right now?

Everyone’s brothers in arms here, we all go to each other’s shows and have a jolly good time. Theo Verney, Fuoco, Tusks, Pink Lizards, Morning Smoke, Abattoir Blues, The Magic Gang, Demob Happy, Big Society, Kit Wharton, Munez and and probably loads of others who we can’t remember right now.
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How do you like to write? Is there a sole songwriter amongst you?

Jimi and Eric both write the songs and then we take them into the room and disfigure them. Jimi’s singing lead on the new tracks he’s written which is sweet but unfortunately they haven’t been released yet. Creamy dulcet tones.

Tell us about ‘Silverback’, what’s the track about, and how would you compare the ‘Silverback’ sessions to recording Sandscrape last year?

We’re all apes, man. I (Eric) actually record all of our stuff at my dad’s little studio, so it was pretty much the same process though I’d learned quite a lot since recording Sandscrape. We also recorded a version of Silverback with our buddy Theo Verney that’s on the cassette as well and it’s delightful. It’s actually the oldest song we still play but we thought we should put it out there before it died.

Your ‘Silverback’ video is a true mind-melter, what is the most mind melting experience Gang have had so far?

Making that video with our roomy Chris Wade of Dogbrain Videos was very intense and beautiful. Apart from that we’re pretty clean living, straight edge, polite young hermits.

Rad! So lastly, what can we expect from Gang next?

We’ve got a lot of pretty extreme stuff we’ve just recorded which we’re really pumped about that will be out sometime this year. No release plans yet, though we’ll be sorting that soon. We recently left the south for the first time at the beginning of this month to do shows in Leeds, Sheffield & Cardiff (Swn Festival) too, and we’ll be playing some lovely festivals over the summer. Also, one day we will all be dead.

Silverback is out now on Sexx Tapes.

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Photo Credit: Carolina Faruolo

GANG

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‘Silverback’
Sexx Tapes

Kick off the week with your ears stinging as Brighton’s GANG emerge with their treacherous head-banger of a new single, ‘Silverback’.

As soon as this monstrous riff kicks in you almost jolt 40 years back in time. These three scuzz mongers make no attempt to hide their love for ‘70s throwback octofuzz and maxed out organ tones that Jon Lord himself would surely give a tip of the hat to. Vocally, frontman Eric Tormey stands alone, howling his pained damnations high above the din.

Coated in sludge, GANG catapult into their filthy basement jam B-side with gusto. Mashing slack chord abuse against a fierce throat shredding mantra, this trio are daring you to question ‘Not A Reason’ as the ideal house party scream-along.

The ‘Silverback’ cassette also features a bonus mix by fellow Brightonite and fuzz advocate Theo Verney, grab a copy of this sludgy sleaze via Sexx Tapes from January 30th.

Fist City / Cousins – Shacklewell Arms

Fist City / Cousins
Shacklewell Arms
16.05.2013

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Canadian bands have always delivered great underground punk music, from the recent slamming sounds of Fucked Up through to the old guard of SNFU and DOA, they just seem have a knack of digging out some classic stuff and bringing something beautiful to the scene.

Last night, Alberta rippers Fist City rolled into town for their debut London show over East and delivered an absolute treat to the lucky few who witnessed their balls-out, garage fueled surf attack. From the opening track ‘Endless Bummer‘ to their epic version of Devo’s ‘Uncontrollable Urge’, (video below) the quartet packed massive amounts energetic punk into their 30 minute set and blew the roof off.

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Fronted by Keir Griffiths on guitar and vocals, Fist City’s overall sound is trashy, powerful and underlined with a surf twang that invites a feel good factor on par with the best of them. We are talking the cheekiness of the Black Lips and Fidlar, riffs that would rival Rites of Spring, all delivered with a confident presence that brings their live work directly into your face.

This is not a band that plays a show and doesn’t get involved. These guys shake and move to the banging sound of Ryan Grieve’s pounding drums. Griffiths threw his guitar onto the stage and then threw himself into the audience, pulsating and gyrating like a woman on fire in a sandpit. His mic was hurled into the open jaws of the lucky few watching, whilst bassist Lindsay Munro and guitarist Evan Van Reekum kept the rolling pace flowing from the stage. Born a girl and now a man following gender reassignment, Keir stomped the shit out of every inch of space between those surrounding walls and left the onlookers in awe.

This band are special and they don’t come around that often, so look out for them on your travels and pick up their album ‘It’s 1983, Grow Up‘ whilst there’s still vinyl available.

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Headliners Cousins followed this carnage well and put on a good show. They hail from Halifax made up of guitarist/singer Aaron Mangle and drummer Leigh Dotey. The duo play rock and roll at each other with thunderous riffage. Their stripped down presence hails a sound as loud and as finely perfected to any four piece. Dotey’s rolling drum assault does a grand job of keeping Mangle’s deep garage swagger fulfilled and made this evening one of the most enjoyable this year.

Both bands are playing at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton this weekend alongside a bunch of other fine Canadian acts down there. If you find yourself on the beach, do yourself a favour and seek these two out.

Zac

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Xerox and Destroy

When introduced to the concept of the Photocopy Club you cannot really dismiss it due to its simple but effective nature.

What is it then? Essentially it’s all about bringing people together to contribute their photos, whatever the subject, and sharing the tales. Once these submissions are photocopied and stuck to the gallery walls, the doors open, free beer is delivered to fuel the chit chat and the photos are set for sale to help cover the costs of the gallery hire for one evening only. The walls are then stripped by drunk people wanting to wake up with a memory of their favourite shot of the night. It’s a perfect idea.

The beautiful part of all of this is that Xerox and Destroy was open to everybody, so you get to see many different photos that you would never have seen before. These are showcased alongside various stills from skate photographers whose work you may well be familiar with, such as David Hopkins, Ben Larthe, Richie Hopson, Rich West, Jonnie Craig, Sam Hiscox, Jenna Selby and many more, all mixed up together, and all telling their own story. It’s an historic journey from start to finish, so long as you are quick enough to see them all before they are snapped up.

Last night’s gathering at the Doomed Gallery in Dalston was a huge success. Photographs filled the walls, Atticus provided the beer, the gallery was packed with people all night and the rest is now history.

Thanks to Matt Martin and Marc Vallée for making the effort to put this together.

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