The Lines – Interview

Up until now the most successful musicians from Wolverhampton have been limited to Noddy Holder and sparkly toothed Goldie, but with fresh new talent The Lines that could be about to change.

Formed by friends Alex Ohm and Dean Bate, this indie four piece have been described as psychedelic indie and have held their own opening for Babyshambles, Editors, The Holloways and The Maccabees to name but a few. With London beckoning and label interest growing, The Lines are one to watch. Singer and guitarist Alex Lanes took some time out on a Friday afternoon to have a chat with Dee Massey.

Right Alex, let’s start right at the beginning. How did you guys all get together to form The Lines?

Well I’ve known the guitarist Dean basically all my life…we just ended up having a jam and stuff, and some covers and …ended up staring a band! [laughs] Chris, the bass player – we’d known him since secondary school and working in pubs and stuff, and our drummer at the moment, Ryan – we know him through other bands from the last few years, he left his last band and joined us straightaway basically..

So you guys are from Wolverhampton, fill us in -what’s the music scene like up there?

It’s not a great music scene – it’s ok, it has picked up recently with other local bands doing well. It’s only got a couple of venues that are any good really, you’ve got the Varsity and the Little Civic, and it’s got bigger venues such as the main Civic. It’s ok – there’s going to be some good bands coming out of it now.

And what bands are you into yourself? Are you guys inspired by anyone in particular?

It varies from each member really, I know Ryan’s really like the more rock based bands like Blink and stuff, but the other three of us really bands like The Beatles, more brit pop bands, but then there’s other bands who do influence us who aren’t in that genre, like Jurassic 5.

So how would you explain your sound?

I find it hard to say really because it is sort of indie…and it’s not really brit pop – I know some bands listen to themselves and put themselves into a category…but I don’t know if I could do that…I guess we’re just indie…alternative..[laughs] I should make up a new genre..

You guys have supported some really popular bands like Babyshambles, Editors, Maccabees and The Holloways – how did those slots come about?

It’s just through supporting them at the Little Civic, whilst they’ve been touring, and it’s through just hard work , pushing for gigs and stuff. We supported Babyshambles at the Dublin Castle [in Camden], and it can be harder for us sometimes, being an unsigned band but we’ve got the London show with The Crimea and stuff, so we’re getting there!

And how do you know The Crimea, Owen’s [Hopkins – drummer of The Crimea] looking after you guys now right?

Yeah, he’s helping us out, it’s great. We got to know The Crimea through Owen, we played the Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham and he was being tour manger for a band, and he saw us, came to talk to us and we’ve just kept in touch.

And you’re supporting them at Borderline?

Yeah on the Tuesday!

And I understand you’re looking to release a single in September?

Yeah we’re talking about that. It’s the first time we’ve done anything like that so I’m a bit scared..


Yeah it is great, but we’ve just booked the Civic Bar which is like a 400 person venue, and that’s a really big step up, it’s quite scary as an unsigned band!

Nah! Enter Shikari sold out the Astoria unsigned, you’ll be fine!

[laughs] I hope so! Could look a bit funny with just my mum and dad and my auntie!

And what would be your dream venue – if you could play anywhere in the world?

Little Civic in Wolverhampton of course! [laughs] But I would like to play the main Civic here, because it’s one of the first venues I ever went to, and I’d quite to play Koko because it’s so beautiful.

It’s really stunning in there isn’t it? It still looks like a theatre..

I think that’s what I like about it really, just the different levels – it’s great in there. As or other venues..Wembley?!

What band would you most like to go on tour with?

Ooh that’s a tricky one! …The Beatles! Just to see what it’d be like. Wouldn’t mind going on tour with The Maccabees, they seemed really cool, or the Stones!

And why should people come and see you live? What do your shows have that others don’t?

Lots of mistakes![laughs] A different sound, an all around fun experience! [laughs] We try to make it a bit more interesting, a bit different.

What’re your hopes for the next 12 months or so?

Hopefully sort some kind of signing out, and a release and it’d be nice to do a full month tour..

Right – it’s time for the quickfire round..are you ready?

I think so!

What 3 things should you always take on tour.

Phone charger…clean socks and pants!

Every band I talk to says clean socks..

[laughs] Definitely the clean socks! And a phone…oh and the band!

What is the most shameful CD that you own?

Noooo…why did you have to interview me? I’m going to have to say…Cisco and Thong Song.

Oh my god! You should be ashamed!

I was a kid!

Yeah yeah…What was the first gig you ever went to?

Um…probably Space at the Civic Hall…no..actually Shed Seven!

Who is the most annoying person in the band!

[laughs] I can’t answer that!

Yes you can!

[laughs]I’ll say Ryan..[laughs] I’m sure he’s got ADD or can’t leave him along for more than 2 seconds!

What’s the best and worst thing about being in a band?

Best thing is the places you go, the gigs and meeting new people. The worst is the pressure it can put you under, and you start to get on each others nerves.

If there was a fight between the …easter bunny, Tooth fairy and Santa who’s win?

Tooth Fairy.

Why? I think Santa would kick their arse!

Nah [laughs] ..he’s a big cuddly thing..he won’t even get involved, he’d say ‘have a present’ and walk off.

And lastly…your words of wisdom for the Crossfire readers…

You know if you asked anybody if I had any words of wisdom they’d say no! Be safe..take it easy..and don’t swallow too many biscuits!

Check out the fresh new talent this is The Lines at


Forever Like Red Interview

Echo’s exciting new signing, Forever Like Red recently blew the crowd away with their set at Hyde Park’s London Calling.

Hailing from Louisiana in the Deep South, by way of LA, Cameron Meshell‘s stunningly haunting vocals and emotive, intelligent song writing have produced a forthcoming album which brings together the best of both piano and guitar driven rock in a neat little package that’ll be turning heads. Dee Massey met up with Cameron before their Water Rats show for a chat about the early days, recording the new album and what he makes of all those Jeff Buckley comparisons…

So let’s start right at the beginning…you actually started off as a solo artist?

Yes, if you go back to the early days I had a band then [called Cameron Meshell]. My brother played drums and a good good friend of mine played bass. So I’ve kinda always been in a band. I worked solo around 2000, so yeah it was a good few years of solo. And we’ve had this actual band together for just six months.

So what made you actually decide to make it a band as opposed to just be a solo singer/songwriter?

I moved to Los Angeles in 2003 as a solo artist, just writing songs for acoustic guitar. I wanted to form a band, I was really struggling… I guess struggling to find myself and find what kind of music I wanted to be doing, and I’d written songs like ‘Father’ and ‘Forever Like Red’ before I moved to LA, but I was really struggling…. But I did manage to get a publishing deal early on, I was really lucky to get that. I wanted to put together a band and then I met Pelle [Hillstrom – formally of Modwheelmood] and so we started working together and putting songs together.

And the fact that you’re from LA, Pelle’s from Sweden and the other guys (Mikkel Heimburger (bass) and Jesper Kristensen (drums)) are Danish – does that have any impact on your sound?

You know what, I can say that it actually doesn’t on this album because really this album really just me doing my thing…. yes they’ve played on a couple of songs , but we’ll see what happens with the next album.

I read that you come from a deeply religious family, has that effected your song writing?

[laughs wryly] Oh yes. Absolutely, that fuels me. ‘What Will You Pay‘ is a song about questioning your faith, your religions. I am not a deeply religious person, my mum doesn’t like that too much as she’s a deeply religious person. But pretty much if you’re born in the south and you come from the south religion is number one, you start with that and then you worry about other things.

And what does your mum think about what you’re doing now?

She loves it, she couldn’t be happier.

People say you sound very like Jeff Buckley which is quite a big accolade to have placed on your shoulders, is he one of your inspirations?![laughs] In fact that’s the most annoying thing about it, everyone goes to Jeff Buckley but if you listen to early Freddie Mercury that’s where my voice comes from, it’s not Jeff Buckley at all.

I hadn’t picked up on that at all! I’ll have to go back and listen to him now.

Yeah yeah, Freddie Mercury is my number one influence. In fact if you go back and you look at who influenced Jeff Buckley you’ll find that Freddie Mercury was one of those people. Because his falsetto is exactly where I’m taking it from, and I’m not ashamed to say that. I totally learned how to sing from the school of Freddie, not Jeff Buckley.

I do listen to Jeff Buckley, but I think everybody wants to go back to him. I read an article in NME that said something about Thom Yorke and Chris Martin getting their inspiration from Jeff Buckley, but any male that does a falsetto is going to sound just like Freddie Mercury or Buckley..I mean look at Mika.

How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard Forever Like Red?

I would say melody, it’s a nice clean smooth sound – but it really depends on which song you’re talking about. If I was talking about Father or something like that I’d say breakdown, piano based, melodic, catchy….something like that.

When I saw you playing at the Carling Academy you did a really rock driven set, is that the direction you’re heading in?

Well actually tonight’s going to be very different. We’ve taken the rock out. We’re adding two piano songs and taking out Father, so we’re trying to change the set and make it a little mellow, ‘cos we’re gearing up for Hyde Park [London Calling], and we want to do a more mellow set for that.

I wanted to ask you about your deal with Echo, how come you chose to sign to a UK based label?

Because I couldn’t get a deal in America! [laughs] Actually that’s not true – I was offered a couple of deals, but we passed on them because we didn’t think it was the right time to sign but in the end we were offered a major label deal in America but we turned in down and kept going and eventually we just couldn’t get a deal, I don’t know what the case is now but Echo came and had been interested pretty much since the beginning, and we decided that it was pretty much the best label to go with. They allowed us to tour and build it up like [labels].. used to 30 years ago.

So let’s talk a little about your new album ‘Distance’. You started off recording it with Brad Wood before switching to have Dave McCracken produce it and Richard Wilkinson mixed it – how come you swapped producers?

We did the Brad Wood sessions and it was a little pop, I literally have a whole other album that’s a little more smooth, and we wanted to put some edge onto it.. We did the deal with Echo, and picked Dave McCracken out of a handful of producers, mainly because Dave didn’t have the huge names behind him I think. We met with guys who’d produced huge names and we went with Dave because he seemed newer onto the scene and we liked what he did. We worked with him one day in a meeting that actually turned into a session , and we pretty much said ‘that’s the guy’ and he did a great job?

And did you enjoy the whole studio process?

Yeah, mostly. Obviously sometimes it gets really stressful, especially when you’ve been drinking and you come in and you’re just pissed off and you don’t want really to be there, but for the most part it’s an enjoyable experience. I had a good time!

How involved did you get in the mixing?

Not too much…In fact [laughs] they don’t even invite us down when they’re mixing! [laughs]

So antisocial!

[laughs] I know!

Did the end result sound like you’d hoped?

I’m very happy with it, you always want to change things but at the end of the day, you have to say this is what it is, this is what I loved when I was listening to the playbacks, before it even got mixed….the feelings there.

You’re midway through your UK tour right now, how’s that been for you?

It’s been great. I mean….at times if feels kinda pointless when you go way out of your way and you’re kinda playing for two people, but most of the time when people come up to you and say ‘ great show’ it makes it worthwhile.

And you played Hyde Park’s ‘London Calling’ in June!

Yeah but no one seemed to know we were playing! I was bummed out about that because we weren’t up on the posters that were all over the subways, ‘cos we weren’t confirmed when they went to press.

You need to get your street team out writing your name on all of them! What does the rest of the summer hold for you guys?

Well we’re off in July and August off and then we’re hitting it hard in September, at least that’s what I know right now.

So it’ll all kick off big time in September?

I hope so! [laughs]

Ok, and to finish up, I have a few questions that I ask every’s your quick fire round.. what 3 things should you always take on tour with you?

A book..your ipod and a pen and paper. Oh and a pen and paper only count as one thing..

That’s totally cheating!

But you can’t have one without the other!

Hmm…ok what’s the worst thing about being in a band?

Oh have to listen to three other people [laughs], you can’t always get your own way..

And the best thing?

Well fortunately I usually end up getting my own way! [laughs]. And being out with friends and having a good time. There’s always going to be ups and downs.

What was the first gig you ever went to?

Doctor John, the New Orleans pianist I think, I actually met him. Probably my first gig.

What bands do you listen to at the moment?

I love the new Killers album, the new Bloc Party, the new Artic Monkeys, and the new Keane album’s growing on me.

What’s the most shameful CD that you own?

[laughs] Jordan Knight…the solo Jordan Knight

[laughs] Seriously?!

Seriously! He really did some brilliant stuff! Well not him…but whoever was playing…there are some really cool songs on there [laughs sheepishly] I think it’s called…oh whatever… I stand behind that, there ARE a couple of good songs on there!

That’s so going to come back and haunt you when people Google this interview!

[laughs] It’s not that bad!

Where would you most like to tour and who with?

I would love to tour with U2 all over the world. I think that they’re one of those bands who are just so damn huge, they’re so lasting, they’re the mould for a rock band, they’re the mould and that’s what you have to follow, and just try to follow that path. Oh and maybe Queen too…but that’s pretty unlikely!

What’s your poison?

I’m having it now [raises pint]

And your hangover cure?

More alcohol!

And lastly, any words of wisdom for Crossfire readers…

Yeah…stay away from hard drugs!

For further information on Forever Like Red check out and


Waz Interview

Whilst spending less time courting the spotlight than their rock star contemporaries, the swathe of singer/songwriters building up across the world are very much a force to be reckoned with. Ryan Adams, Jesse Malin, Willy Mason, Josh Ritter, Pete Yorn, Teddy Thompson, Ray LaMontagne to name but a few – these artists have built up ardent fan bases (Ryan Adam’s Koko show sold out in a matter of minutes), with their heartfelt, honest and genuine artistry and writing.

Artists like Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional are straddling the line between mainstream and low key, whilst maintaining the ‘confessional‘ and earnest style that hits a nerve with so many listeners. Along with these mainstays, new artists are emerging, amongst them Waz, longtime band mate of Pete Yorn, who’s struck out on his own with his emotion driven, beautifully crafted tracks. Having supported Jesse Malin at ULU last week, Waz showcased his new EP Home at Bar Academy, and took time out for a chat with Dee Massey.

Right I guess we should start right at the very beginning. How did you get into music?

Well I grew up in Cleveland Ohio in the states, which is like the Mid West, and my parents had ELO, The Pretenders and Neil Young albums around the house – oh and Kiss! – and I used to just crank ’em up! And when I was about 8 my brother started taking drums lessons and I started guitar lessons, and after that I just never stopped playing.

And how did you and Pete Yorn get together?

[At] Syracuse..New York. He’s from Jersey, I was from Ohio, so going to college was like a big big trip for us. We started a band…. But it took about 4 years before anything happened and then he got signed [to Columbia] and then we went on tour for a number of years.

And when did you actually decide to go it alone? When did you start writing your own solo material?

While I was out of the road really. I first started writing and recording with the guy who recorded Pete’s first album [R Walt Vincent], as he was playing with us at the time, he had played most of the bass on that first album. So I recorded with him on my off-time, a few days here, a week there, and started playing it to people, and their response was pretty overwhelming.

And I guess I wanted a change, I think I’d done everything I could do in that band, I’d supported [Pete].. for a long time – and it’s his name you know, it was never about anyone but him – not in a bad way, it’s just his name. So I decided to split..

I was looking on Wikipedia and you’re down as an ‘eternal band member

Yeah [laughs]..that’s pretty cool.

Listening to your EP, it’s very honest, very stripped down, it seems very personal – where do you take your influences from?

I don’t really know, I mean…it just flows you know? Some people speak in metaphors and stuff like that, I just kinda let it come out…. these songs just seem to have a similar feel to them.

I think over here in the UK people seem to react well to singer songwriters who wear their heart on their sleeve, almost confessional writers…like Dashboard, Ryan Adams and people.

Well that’s good!

And what can people expect when if they listen to Home?

Well more of what you just said, very confessional sing songwriter type stuff, very heartfelt. Somebody said once, it’s not going to change the world, it’s not revolutionary music, it’s not like when The Strokes came out or anything, and I agree…it’s not. But I think its music that’s gonna last, and I think that what people should expect is more of the same. The EP is only 4 tracks, but I’ve recorded 14 songs, so there’s more to come.

And where did you record it?

Hollywood. In an old house with these two guys [Will Golden & Al Sgro] that I’d known for a couple of years, they started producing and opened a little studio.

And how involved did you get in the production side?

Very much so, I produced with them. It was one of their first [productions], but they’d worked with Gary Jules as well, Joe Purdy, Ian Ball from Gomez and people . I was as much a producer as they were, but they are amazing engineers though, that’s one thing I can’t do, and they also play a lot of the piano on the album.

So without sounding geeky…did you record it digitally or use tape?

We recorded it all onto 2″ tape first, and then we dumped it into pro-tools. It probably lost a little bit [of character] but at least it was initially recorded onto tape.

And did you prefer being on tour like now, or being creative in the studio?

I’d say being on the road. But being in a studio is when things happen….you can’t have one thing without the other, so I like being in the studio half the time….but also love being on the road.

And how’ve you found the English..and Irish..audiences?

They’ve been very receptive and warm [laughs] I hope they were moved by the genuine emotion and heartfelt songs. Jesse’s [Malin] people were really cool, it was more of a rock n roll crowd than I expected. The irish crowd were great, they responded more to different songs. So far it’s been really great!

So what’s the plan now? Are you going back to tour in the US?

I think we’re off to New York for some shows and we’ve got a load of new songs to record, and there’s some stuff going on with labels right now so we’re just trying to work it all out. I just signed a publishing deal.. and so they’re bringing people [labels] to the table, and it’s just one of those things [laughs]. I think we’re coming back to Europe in July or August, maybe a tour of Ireland. It’s cool over there.

Of all your touring, with either act, what’s been your most memorable time?

Well this group’s just getting going – but I did open for Pete, about 6 or 8 months after I left the band, in some big 2000 seater venues, and that was great. People saw me , they knew me from his band and could see I’d left on good terms, but they could see what I had to offer now.

Now for some quickfire questions…I’ve been asking bands I interview what 3 essentials items they take on tour…now Finch said spandex jump suits…and Ok Go are keen on socks, what are your three?

[laughs] Ok..pain reliever! ..Socks….lots of socks. And….well I haven’t been out for a while, so I’m finding out what I need!

What is the most shameful CD that you own?

Probably Justin Timberlake…that’s terrible right?

Yes, you should be ashamed.

[laughs] I know!

What kind of stuff do you listen to anyway..that you’re not ashamed of?

I love Neil Young, Tommy Petty, Strokes, Echo and the Bunnymen, basically anything rock n roll. There’s a lot of great new bands out there, The Caesars. I mean I love singer/songwriter driven music but I love rock n roll.

What’s your poison?

Oh I’ve been drinking a lot of red wine lately! I have a tendency to drink a lot, it got to the point where I was thinking ‘man..I need to drink something a little less heavy’. [laughs] But..I’m breaking it up, I go through a month or two of drinking red wine, right now I’m on the beer and Guinness. I don’t think it’d be safe to order red wine here anyway [some dodgy pub in Islington]

And so what’s your best hangover cure?

Writing. I’ve written some of my favourite songs hungover. I think you’re a little outside of your head, you don’t have those mental blocks or apprehension, and it’s different to when you’re drunk though.

What’s the best and worst thing about being in a band?

The best thing is being able to sharing your music, and seeing how people respond, the touring and the travelling. ..that moment when you’re writing with someone and you get that moment when you both look at each other and you know you’ve written something pretty fucking cool.

And the worst?

You almost forget to appreciate the people around you I think ‘cos you’re with them so much. Oh and doing a video in the ocean [in Ireland] and being so cold!

What was the first gig you ever went to as a child?

Eddie Money – an American singer, it was New Years, and I was no older than 11 or 12. I was supposed to going to Kiss, but at the last moment but Dad said no, he thought we’d get into trouble…but I think I was only about ten!

What’s your worst personality trait?

Well..probably snapping..! Being a little short tempered sometimes. I’m working on it [laughs] It’s usually with people I’m closest with though.

Why should people buy your EP?

Although there are other singer/songwriters out there, I don’t think there are very few who are delivering these songs as honestly as I am….or maybe I should say that the songs I am delivering are honest and genuine. And like I said, it’s not going to change your world….but I think when you hear it, you’re going to feel it, and I think it’ll emotionally evoke a lot of feelings.

Where would you most like to tour, and who with?

I’d live to tour around Europe, and I think the crowds definitely appreciate what I do, and this kind of music, and to open for Ryan Adams would be amazing. Playing with Jesse [Malin] has been great..

What do you miss most when you’re on tour?

I haven’t been gone long enough yet. When I was out of the road with Pete it used to be my girlfriend, but now she’s in the band!

And lastly..any words of wisdom for those aspiring songwriters on Crossfire?

Listen to good music!

For further information on Waz check out


My Passion Interview

My Passion is a cross between The Cure and electro pop. Originating from London, this five piece artistic band took the time out to answer some questions that I had prepared for them one chilly evening down at The Student Union in Luton.

Amongst conversations about dodgy tour vans, chicken boxes and eight scattered I-Pods, I could tell this was only the beginning of a very interesting interview.

Here’s what lead singer Lawrence Rene and bass guitar player Simon Rowlands had to say…

Who are your musical influences?

LR: We are all really into different music. At the moment I’m into a lot of dancy sounds, something you can get your groove on to. We like music such as Muse, My Victory who are making a comeback, they’re really cool. John the drummer likes heavier stuff, he listens to AFI and Thrice; those are his two main bands, which we all love anyway. A bit of everything really including older stuff, like Bowie oh and punk, including 80’s cheesy synth pop. A massive range is good fun. We’re all up for it! It definitely shows in our music. When we bring all of the influences together it makes it weird and exciting. A lot of electro stuff shines through.

SR: I love electro! We’re all down for it on the dance floor…something to get your groove on to as well…

If I was to ransack the My Passion tour van, what would I find?

LR: Oh no…you wouldn’t even want to come 10 meters near it! It’s not glamorous, you’d find like coke cans and food wrappers, old chicken boxes. It’s really quite cozy. At the moment we have our mini bus and there are eight of us squashed in there including our sound techs and we’re all covered up keeping warm in it.

SR: We also have a pimpin’ sound system in there as well…

LR: You can’t play any Slipknot on it though, the cd player decided to shoot back a CD in the direction of the rear van, like you’d see in some film nearly taking John’s head off in the process. So basically, lots of junk, maps of places we’ve tried to get to and I-Pods, there’s about eight of them scattered about somewhere in the mini bus.

SR: You’d be very rich if you ransacked our mini bus. You could probably nick the items rather than the bus itself, except for the chicken boxes. (laughs).

What are you most looking forward to on the rest of your tour?

LR: The tour…what have we got left? We’ve gone to loads of cities now; the next stop is over to Andover in Croydon, the gig location is like the ghetto of south London. It’s more of a rock pub where all the kids come out and go crazy. St. Albans again is also on the list. The one we’re most looking forward to is the Star Suicide club night at our local down in Hitchin; we’re having a Nightmare Before Christmas party on the 21st December, so we’re looking forward to that. It’s going to be cool local bands playing with us and loads of great music creating a big party atmosphere. The thought of having an all nighter and not having to travel the next day is quite nice.

Do you think having an internet fan base is important and which fans are the most devoted?

LR: For us especially, the image and the music is quite striking and you can notice it straight away which has a major impact. With the internet and in particular myspace, it has allowed us to meet people we’d never meet unless we were on tour with My Chemical Romance. It’s just a great way to start, we started in January this year and we launched My Passion and we have like coming up to 45,000 friends on there now.

SR: Most of our songs come up to about 1000 plays a day, like advertising more than you could do before.

LR: With this first tour as well we found a lot of the promoters through myspace. It’s like a great benefit in a way, you can’t just do it through myspace you have to get out there and play the shows, do the tours as well, and it’s just a great way to get the band going and see fans have great taste in what they listen to in our music and videos, everything is there for the fans and they’re like wow!

SR: We have like blogs every time we do a show; we also have videos of us messing around on tour. People don’t get to see special bits that you wouldn’t really see at a show so they get that little bit extra so that’s good.

LR: We have fans in Venezuela, we got to play in Barcelona and France as well, which allows you to bring the music to others which you wouldn’t really get in Hitchin, its amazing.

What year did My Passion form together as a group?

LR: My Passion was launched earlier this year and quite a lot has happened since then. We’ve done some demo tracks, which are up on myspace, and then you’ve got the promo singles…

SR: We’re recording our new single at the moment and also in the studio recording as well…

LR: We’re making a new album called Hot in the Dolls House which is going to be out in March 2007. We are also planning to launch our own record label, which we’re setting up, because we want to go it alone and have full control of everything.

SR: We just want to dominate the world! And set ourselves up for life really, we don’t want to do it half-heartedly and blow the world away.

LR: We’ve been playing together, when Simon joined My Passion at the end of last year we started rehearsing and launched it this year, the rest of us played in different bands before that. We all get on really well together its great.

Downloading songs is still illegal, although people do it anyway, if you were to find out that kids were able to download your album, how would you react to that?

LR: I’m still not sure about this one, the whole downloading thing. I think people should all go out and buy and download tracks and pay for them if they have the money. However we have to have a mixed tape in the mini bus.

SR: We can’t go without those…

LR: I definitely want kids to download our stuff and pay for it, so that we can keep going, otherwise if they don’t go out and pay for it we won’t be able to go and play live and all the other stuff that we do.

SR: We played a gig in St. Albans the other day; the kids went wild because they had never seen us play live before then they spent all their pocket money on us.

LR: I think its nice to have CDs as well like you have something in your hand, I know that downloading is taking over everything. Vinyl is making a comeback, I don’t know if people still play them or keep them as a souvenir like a memory.

You can visit the My Passion’s myspace at:


Alterkicks Interview

Alterkicks are the new Scouse spice to hit the nation. Forget the Zutons, they’re old news. Liverpool has much more to offer, and the Alterkicks are top of the city’s music menu.

From bizarre cannibal hitch hiking tales to tingling ghost songs, the Alterkicks have a fine selection of music coloured with often eccentric lyrics. But they are not fresh out the garage set-up. It has taken three years for this five-man band to perfect their sound and step out of Scouserville onto the UK stage with a record contract and a solid reputation behind them.

Rebecca Geach popped down to the London Forum, where The Automatic supported by Alterkicks, Jack Turner and Viva Machine, were playing their last tour date, to catch up with the band.

Where did the name Alterkicks come from?

An 8 hour conversation with Mike’s (Mike Oates-guitar) sister’s boyfriend. He was a tarot card dealer, and told us after a long meditation that we had to be called the Alterkicks.

Which other bands do you most look up to?

We admire bands such as the Smiths and Radiohead who have gone against the grade to be original.

Where do your songs come from?

Our music originates from each of our individual personalities really. Martin (Martin Stilwell-vocals) writes most of the lyrics, but we are all very good at fulfilling our roles as musicians. Therefore when we play, we play with instinct. We don’t discuss it, it just comes. We miss composing at the moment because we’ve been on such a long tour. We’re looking forward to getting back home and coming up with some new stuff.

As the years go by and you’re becoming more recognised is it getting harder to come up with new musical material and to maintain your originality?

No, actually it’s getting easier. We’ve not been around long enough to start losing our edge, so we’re still very musically virile. It’s just hard work recording-it takes a long time!

What’s the most annoying thing about becoming increasingly well-known?

We hate the way journalists keep comparing us to other bands such as the Zutons. Just because we come from the same city doesn’t mean we sound like them. It gives no credit to our originality and is lazy journalism.

What are your audiences like and where are the best places you’ve played so far?

We’ve had a good reaction from most of our audiences, and are finding now that we have a following which keeps growing as the word about us spreads. We see the same faces popping up over and over again. We had a good gig in Cambridge and a fantastic one in London with Scarlet. Perhaps the best though was one we recently played in Glasgow. We played well and the Scots were really up for it. We were beaming afterwards.

How and when did you get recognised and signed up?

There was a lot of hype for one and a half years. Our first big gig was the Manchester Academy Unsigned. There were a lot of proud handshakes after that. It really hit us though after we played in the Zanzibar in Liverpool with some other bands about a year and a half ago. The place was packed out and people were really excited. We were finally signed up four months ago with B-Unique Records. They saw us one day and signed us up the next.

What’s it like touring with The Automatic?

It’s great. They’re lovely boys and a genuinely very good band, and they’re especially powerful when they play live.

So what’s your ultimate goal as a band and as musicians?

We want to make good music which we’re personally proud of, not for critical acclaim. We’re just doing it because we enjoy it. We can’t predict if anyone else will like it…Also…we’d like to bring about the Big Crunch with the C note of course. Then a new universe will be formed, and the next generation will have to create new music…

Okay guys. Whatever you say!

Alterkicks’ single On Holiday is out 13 November on B Unique records and the album should be out next spring. The Alterkicks are: Martin Stilwell (vocals), Mike Oates (guitar), Gareth Padfield (guitar), Mark Yari-Gerrard (bass) and Oliver Hughes (drums).

Check out the band’s myspace at or their website at


Yeti Interview

So we’ve heard all about Dirty Pretty Things and Babyshambles…but ever wonder what became of the 4th member of The Libertines, John Hassal? Well wonder no longer, because he’s back, with a band who are building up quite a reputation for themselves, Yeti.

With an EP in the shops now, it seems the quiet Libertine has been biding his time with good reason, and the unhurried result of months of hard work is warm, timeless and intelligent, the kind of tracks you can listen to again and again as they creep under your skin.

Together with Andrew Deian, Graham Blacow, Brendan Kersey and Mark ‘Harmony’ Williams, Yeti are proving that it’s always the quiet one you have to watch. Guitarist Mark ‘Harmony’ Williams took some time out to chat to Dee Massey about the album, the band and what happens when you go through a black hole.

Well firstly congratulations on your EP, which is out today.

Why thank it out today?

It is indeed apparently!

Wow..I guess I should really go and buy a copy then!

You probably should! Anyway, let’s go right back to the beginning. Obviously John was in a band before (The Libertines) but how did you guys all get together, what’s your background?

Well, I first met Graham backstage at another gig, a Johnny Coppin gig..we got very very drunk and I ended up crashing at his place and we’ve known each other since then. Brendan and Andy came through John, and I knew John because I knew Carl [Barat from The Libertines/Dirty Pretty Things].

And am I right in thinking you also write for TV and films?

Vaguely…actually I got sacked recently from the TV thing [laughs]

Oh god..sorry!

It’s ok..well I didn’t really get sacked..but they stopped answering my emails so I get the feeling I’m not wanted anymore. I was writing something for Talkback about hit and run, featuring Nigel Harman, him off Eastenders, but they’ve gone cold. But I’ve got a film on the go..

So where does your love really lie – music or writing for TV?

I think it lies in writing in general, I like writing and performing. I mean, I was an actor before and I started writing plays and acting in the plays I’d written because..I’m that much of an egomaniac! I went to college with Carl’s sister, and met Carl through that, and then obviously met John, and when things were a bit all up in the air he chatted to be about being in a band, and I’d already suing anyway, so I figured yeah, I’ll be in a band, why not! Something to tell the grandkids!

So do you take control of the song writing in Yeti?

If someone’s singing it, then they wrote it basically – the tune and the lyrics. Of course, everyone writes their own part, as it were – because I haven’t got the first clue how to play bass but thankfully Brendan’s an amazing bassist so already writes me wonderful bass lines which Midnight Flight would suffer greatly without, for instance, because it’s purely bass led.

Your press blurb cites The Beatles and The Velvet Underground as the band’s main influences? Who are your personal ones?

The Orange Organics I’d have to say.

What kind of stuff are you listening to at the moment?

Ooh well I’ll tell you what I got the other day..I got a pile of CDs..hang on…Right, I got The Essential Dolly Parton..

Nothing wrong with Dolly! I even saw her live a few years ago!

[laughs] Really? Ha! I thought I’d better swat up on my country, since we play country. I got myself a three pack of Johnny Cash, which is cool. And I also got in the three for £15 thingy Love da Capo, I got Forever Changes as I’ve always wanted to own it, Blondie’s Greatest Hits and…Dolittle, by The Pixies.

Going for the classics then…

Well yeah, my music collection is sorely lacking in anything decent, so I figured I’d better know something about music if I’m proclaiming to do it.

You should’ve bought your own EP too.

Yeah but..I haven’t actually left the house yet.

Fair enough! Right, you recorded your album with Craig Silvey, ( The Magic Numbers/The Longcut/The Coral) what is it about Craig that made you choose him?

He’s a comic genius. He and Rich Wilkinson are a great double act that just keep you entertained! You’re supposed to be recording, and I like to join in and we kinda just had too much fun.

I heard it was pretty laid back in there?

Yeah [laughs] we didn’t necessarily get that much done in a day, we were too busy joshing around, and recording things we oughtn’t be recording, songs that were never ever going to appear on the album and other silly things.

So with that in mind, do you prefer being in the studio with them or touring?

I like both in equal measure. You can’t beat a live audience, but then again, you can’t always make the sound you want to make with bad equipment, so I kinda like to listen to music on CDs instead of standing in front of a huge PA making me deaf. know you’re getting old when you think that!

[laughs] Well it’s true!

You’ve just done your first headline tour of the US. What was your most memorable date out there?

Las Vegas – it was weird, a really strange evening. Whilst we were doing the gig there was a gentleman photographing nude women on a sofa behind the audence.

I would imagine you guys quite enjoyed that show!

Well I couldn’t really see this afterwards [sighs]..but I guess it would have been quite off putting.

So how did you find the US fans in comparison to the brits?

Slighty taller.

Right. if you had to banish one member of the tour bus from the er..bus..who would be it be?

It would have to be Brendan. Because he smokes..and I just quit a month ago, and every time he lights up I just want a cigarette.

So apart from not smoking – what’s your personal goal for the next year?

My goal is to learn to like myself! I was informed that I don’t like myself very much so I’m going to learn to like me.I don’t know how I’m going to like me..but I’ll have a go. Have you got any suggestions?

I find alcohol helps.

Ah but you see it doesn’t.

Well gin’s a downer, but I find JD or even vodka makes me like pretty much everyone.

Oooh…well I’ve a lot of vodka martinis recently…but I’ve been drinking lots of alcohol to cheer myself up and then I don’t actually remember ..I keep waking up in the morning and thinking ‘how did I get here’ and hoping I didn’t say anything out of place to anyone. But apparently I’ve been on top form!

Always good to hear! Right. NME described ‘Never Lose your Sense of Wonder’as ‘gently quarried piece of heaven’ – what would YOUR idea of heaven be?

[laughs] Well not Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder’! [laughs] Erm..blimey..fucking hell. What a question. Not having to think anymore…..and not having a poorly knee! Being a cat maybe. So long as it’s a well looked after cat…I wouldn’t want to be a cat on the streets of Baghdad.

No. I can imagine that would suck.


Ok. Answer me this..when do fish sleep?

When do fish sleep? I don’t think they do, do they?

I don’t know! Can you cry underwater?

Of course you can!

If you went through a black hole..what would you find?

You would find…um…I’ve not been through one! I imagine it’s probably a link to a parallel universe so you’d find a different version of your self who was..better. Or worse…or blonde.

What question would you most like to be asked in an interview?

It depends on the interviewer..

What are your three essentials for going on tour?

An orange, a toothbrush and….a credit card.

Very good. And this is a hard one. If an unstoppable object hit an immovable object..what would happen?

An unstoppable object hit an immovable object….. unstoppable object hit an immovable object? got some random questions!

No’s fine..hang on. [pauses]. The unstoppable object would go back the other way!

What’s your best hangover cure?

More alcohol.


No! Not excellent..but it is the best hangover cure.

And lastly, a source of mine has asked to me to ask you about ‘The Chamber’. Would you like to elaborate?

[laughs a lot] He wouldn’t elaborate? [laughs]. Well..I can’t believe him…well when we were recording I was playing acoustic guitar so I wasn’t allowed in the room with anyone else, so I have my own special chamber in which I was banished. And there’s…well there’s more to the story but I don’t think it’s er….appropriate.[laughs]

And anything you’d like to say to readers of Crossfire?

No. [laughs]. No ..tell them to…[pause]..I want to tell them something useful. I should be full of gems, I didn’t drink today and I’m less compos mentis because of it [laughs]. It’s not going to happen….um…no. You could tell them….that [long pause]…they should read the Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy. At least that’s going to improve their life!

Thank you and goodnight!

For more information on the awesome Yeti check out You can see Yeti on their forthcoming tour at the following dates: 4th December – Manchester / 5th December – Liverpool / 6th December – Cardiff / 8th December – Birmingham / 15th December – Camden, London.

Dee Massey


Fire In Cairo Interview

Rising from the ashes of British Beef, Fire In Cairo are making a name for themselves in London’s live circuit as the snappiest dressed punk rockers out there. A slick, tight act combined with a progressive punk pop sound, Fire In Cairo stake their claim for your attention with a fistful of well driven, driven tracks…Guitarist Geraint took some time out to have a little chat about how life’s going in Fire of Cairo…

So what’s with the name? Ever been to Cairo? And are you pyromaniacs?

No, I’m afraid I haven’t to Cairo. I’ve heard its nice there though! It’s the name of a Cure song. We wanted a name for the band that was slightly different than most bands at the moment. It has an interesting edge to it. Personally, I also feel that my generation has grown up with awful problems in the middle east ever since I can remember, I’m no politically driven person but feel it has a certain underlying feel to the name.

How did you guys get together? Half of the band were in British Beef, who were signed to a major – are really just a new line up of British Beef?

Yeah, Pat and Felix were in British Beef who were on Sony BMG. When British Beef came to an end Darren (Bass started writing and decided to start a completely new fresh band. We still have many industry associates that were formed through British Beef, but as far as Fire In Cairo goes we are a completely fresh new project in sound and line-up) and myself (Guitar) hooked up with the guys to actually to a Beef set as a one off gig. As Patrick’s twin brother i had always been around with Beef, helping where I could. During the rehearsals we

Describe your sound to someone who’s never heard it.

We like to think of it as energetic more than anything else with audiences dancing and wanting to move. We believe in catchy beats, big riffs and melodies that burn into your memory. You could say we lean towards a sound that mixes The Automatic with Bloc Party but with more balls!

You’ve got a certain stage ‘look’ as well – explain please! How important is the band’s appearance?

Ha ha, well….After playing some of our tracks to people we got the same feedback that we sounded like a English band which they thought was a good thing. Going by this we had the idea of mixing ‘Traditional English Gentry’ with loud guitars. People have also picked up on the fact three out of four of us went to public school, so it was an obvious way to go we think! [laughs]

You also run Twin Velocity music and work as a sound engineer/producer. Do the other guys let you take control in the studio? What producers would you most like to work with on a Fire in Cairo record?

Yes, I started TVM whilst doing my music production degree a couple of years ago. I wouldn’t say I take control in the studio because everyone is a seasoned player and Felix as well as myself produces, but when we recorded earlier in the year I engineered and recorded all the vocals and overdubs in my studio. The band produces itself I would say, we all have some great ideas. I still write and produce with other artists as-well.

What bands/artists are you most influenced by?

The band are gonna hate me for saying this. My hero is Slash. As a guitarist he has always influenced me as a guitar player, the tone, feel, timing, its awe inspiring, well for me anyway. Other than that I love all types of music, India Arie, The Used, Iron Maiden, The Eurythmics, anything that makes me feel something inside and gets me thinking.

How hard is it slugging away trying to get a deal? In the perfect world, which label would you make your own?

It’s not an easy thing to achieve. I think bands can make life a lot easier for themselves by doing what they want to do, but keep an eye on what the latest new thing is without just following the crowd. Creating something that stands out from the other bands but also appeals to their fans is important i think. If you put the energy into the right areas you can save a lot of wasted time and effort, but at the end of the day, the songs still have to be good. I think its a fine balance between talent and marketing. As far as making a label my own, I would say it would be Geffen if they are still around, just because of all the bands I grew up listening to were on there.

How do you feel about the London music scene at the moment?

I think it’s brilliant. There are some really cracking venues around town. Last night we played the Carling Islington Academy for the second time, which i think is a wicked venue. London has a music scene that really supports its smaller bands and artists.

When are you next playing, and how can people have a listen to your tunes?

You can get all the details of all our other shows coming up on our myspace page.

How would you label your sound?

Trashy indie power pop rock.

Finally – please leaving a parting shot for the dear readers of Crossfire right…here…!

Check out our myspace leave a message and come down to one of our shows and have one of the best nights you will ever have!!

Thanks Ger!

See what all the hype’s about over at

Dee Massey


The Goodbyes Interview

We’ve picked a few up and coming acts who are bubbling under and have impressed us live, and over the next few months we’ll be laying them down for your judgment!

First to stand up we have the London based trio The Goodbyes whose lives shows at Borderline and The Cobden have left us reeling ( in a good way). Frontman Hen took some time out for a quick chat about why they could be your new favourite band…

Introduction time! How did you get together, how long have you been doing this music malarkey?

Forever but as this lineup about two years give or take.

How did the name ‘The Goodbye’s come about?

We were in the studio recording for the first time and we’d been debating names for ages, originally we wanted to be called ‘Morning Theft’ but it was taken. Anyway we’re in the studio when I was talking about a lyric in a Cat Stevens song called “Oh Very Young”…”The Goodbye makes the journey harder still” and in our weird way we developed it from there. The more I think about the name the more I feel it represents us. Goodbyes are so filled with various emotions and it is that spectrum of emotions that we try to convey musically.

Describe your sound to someone who’s never heard it.

I hate this one… Someone told me we were “The most American sounding British band he’d ever heard.”…I dispute it but I see his point. We sound very much like a product of our influences, an Americana band on a diet of depressing melodic indie.

Most people say playing live makes it all worthwhile, but for you what is the great thing about being in a band?

Rehearsing… I, personally love rehearsing. Everytime I have a shit day I think about the next rehearsal. I love being in the room with the guys just playing and playing and playing. We change little things at every rehearsal, I love the idea that music evolves, it really does!

What bands/artists are you most influenced by?

Hmmm….we’re all different.

Jamie, our guitarist, and I share many influences: Ryan Adams, Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, The Chilis (Particularly John Frusciante) etc…

But I take influence from stuff Jamie hates too… The Doors, R.E.M, Cat Stevens and actually a lot of old punk…Sid loves his hard rock and punk.

You’re about to hit the shelves in a compilation, tell us a little about that..

It’s a compilation of new London based talent called ‘Baby I’m Yours… Volume 1’. It’s being released by a start up label called ‘D.C. Baby Records’. It’s a very cool project because it really is about sharing good music and bands coming together to help each other out.

Do you agree with the Artic Monkeys winning the Mercury Prize?

Hell No! Not in the slightest. I wanted Muse to win, they deserve it the most. The Arctic Monkeys, while ok songwriters owe an awful lot of their success to the fact that they’re attached to a scene that is more about image than music. If their jeans were looser that record wouldn’t have sold so much.

When are you next playing, and how can people have a listen?

Well Sid’s going into hospital today to have his leg fixed up so the next show won’t be until December when he’s fully recovered and can hit his bass pedal again. But then on the 6th we’re playing Tommy Flynns on Camden High St. The details of that gig and the latest recordings are on our myspace which is

Finally – any words of wisdom for the Crossfire readers?

True story…. A polish porn baron, who was a friend of my fathers once sat me down and said in his thick eastern european accent “Henry my boy, if I teach you one thing it is this… DON’T SNAP YOUR CARROT!” That is wisdom I will one day pass onto my own children.

For more info check out

Dee Massey


The Hedrons Interview

At first sight, The Hedrons are a band you’d just love to hate. It’s simply not fair that girls can look that good in skinny jeans. And what’s worse…they’re totally likeable and friendly – the icing on the cake being they’re a proper bona fide rock band.

None of that manufactured watered down pop punk crap for these four Glaswegians – these girls make you sit back on your heels to take in their heavy brand of rock. The Hedrons are on tour now – and set to give the guys a serious run for their money. Dee Massey caught up with lead singer Tippi and bassist Chi before they shook Metro to the core with their show last week.

Well let’s start at the very beginning – you guys have only been together for about a year right? And yet you’ve come so far – playing shows all over UK and even a spot at Download Festival at the Snickers Bowl did it all come about?

Tippi: We met in the same rehearsal rooms in Glasgow. There’s a little tea and coffee room and we kept on just seeing each other, even though everybody was with different bands…and we just thought….’hmm this could be a good laugh, why don’t we get a couple of beers and get in the rehearsal room and see what happen?’ Because never in a million years would I have said I’d be in an all girl punk rock fucking way! And we were in rehearsals and it was just amazing wasn’t it?

Chi: Aye- and it was such an exciting sound we were producing, even in the first rehearsal. We did the first one and we though..we’ll just keep going with it. And it quickly became something we couldn’t really walk away from, we were so excited about it.

Tippi: Absolutely – we were just so excited about it – the energy produced by the four of us, even though we’re all quite different, it just seemed to have a mish mash of good chemistry [laughs]

And the name of the band, The Hedrons – is that a reference to Tippi Hedron (mother of Melanie Griffith) from The Birds?

Tippi: [laughs] Our reply to that is that if we tell you we’ll have to kill you..

Oooh..ok I don’t really have to know then! Moving on swiftly!

Tippi: Yeah we like to be totally ambiguous about it and just keep people wondering!

What kind of bands did you guys grow up listening to? What were your main inspirations, and do you still listen to the same kind of music?

Tippi: Well mine have always been bands like Led Zeppelin, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Paul Weller, Neil Young, Elvis, loads and loads of stuff like that. I love some stuff out now too, like Editors, Wolfmother – big fan of them . Our drummer, Soup, and I are very very similar in our tastes, but ..[Chi] and Rosie are the other end of the spectrum.

Chi: What kind of stuff do you guys listen to?

Chi: A lot of the newer stuff, the heavier sounding stuff, Funeral for A Friend, Trivium, Slipknot – a lot of the hardcore bands – I could name bands that’d just baffle people, but I a lot of the mainstream rock as well, like the Chillis, Foo Fighters. I thought it was quite a broad spectrum until I saw Rosie’s CD collection. [laughs]

Tippi: Tell me about it! [laughs]

And your press blurb describes you as sounding like the love child of Foo Fighters and Joan Jett – would you say that’s an accurate portrayal?

Tippi: Hmm…exactly like that. Absolutely like that! It’s just very exciting, it very punky but we take lot of influence from rock music, and make sure it’s really good fun,that’s what we feel we do. That’s why we’re doing it, it’s why it’s happened so fast, it’s because it’s such good fun.

And your debut single is coming out already!

Tippi: Yes, July 31st a song called ‘Be My Friend‘.

And that’s a reference to My Space?

Chi: Yes..we’ve got almost 27,000 friends now! In less than a year, more recently actually it seems to have just totally exploded!

Everyone’s addicted to my space – I’m guilty! And the single – which label is it going out on?

Tippi: It’s on Measured Records, a small independent label in Glasgow. [They heard about us because] We’ve just been gigging and gigging, that’s why everything’s happening for us. In the beginning we were playing live constantly.

Chi: Yeah, we were doing at least three gigs a week if not more. Just trying to keep the momentum going.

Tippi: We were just working really really hard.

Chi: Obviously it took a while, because although we’d been in the studio with other bands, we needed to gel together, and we felt like the best way to do that was to play live, and get used to each other on stage because there’s nothing worse than watching a band and they’ve all got their independent spaces, and they don’t seem to work as a unit. And we probably were like that in the start, but it very quickly fell into place. And now we know where the lines are..

Tippi: No more beating up the bass player! [laughs]

And you’ve recorded an album as well haven’t you..and I am right in thinking you recording it all live?

Tippi: Yes, we were all set up in the live room.

How come you decided to record it like that?

Tippi: I think it’s the best way, for us. We’re all together- we’ve been together what..17 months now, before we recorded the album we just gig gig gigged so that we could go into the studio and just play and record.

So..are you fans of pro tools and all that auto tuning malarkey in the studio?

Tippi: It’s great – I mean, we recorded onto pro tools, we didn’t uses [analogue] tape, we used totally modern technology to record it. We were all set up in the room with barriers between us , and it was great. For me, it’s got to be like need to capture the energy. We had such fun..we did it’s a punk rock record.

I guess it means you can get on stage and totally recreate your studio sound live, and you won’t sound like you’ve been autotuned to hell..

Tippi: Exactly.

So, an upcoming highlight for you must be your slot at Download, You especially [Chi] must be stoked because it’s all the kind of bands you’re into?

Chi: Definitely. We’re playing on Saturday on the Snickers Bowl stage, its fantastic – I mean there’s so many bands there that we’ve all looked up to. Obviously it’s all different bands, we’ve had rearrange some of our schedules and we’ll be splitting up at some point to check out different bands, but even if you’re not a fan of some of the music, the names that are there are amazing..Guns n Roses! That’s the one I’m really excited about seeing – obviously it’s not the original line up but still..

It’s still Axl!

Chi: [laughs]’s still Axl!

Tippi: And in the news…well we heard yesterday…you tell her [Chi]..

Chi: We’re going to supporting Alice in Chains in July 4th at That Astoria!

Tippi: How cool is that?!

Oh my god! That’s unbelievable! You must be so proud about that!

Tippi: Absolutely! We walked past there today and we were like YEAH!

And it’s sold out…

Chi: Yeah, it was originally at Mean Fiddler but they’ve moved it up to the Astoria.

Tippi: Is it not their only English date?

Chi: It’s their only date so far.

Tippi: And they’ve heard our album! And that’s not a rumour, that’s fact. We know for a fact. We’re really really excited.

Chi: Dirt was one of my favourite albums so I’m so happy!

Tippi: I think you might go AWOL that night! [laughs]

Aaw that’s cool – really happy for you guys! So apart from that, what’s the best part about life on the road for you guys?

Tippi: The gig. It’s all about the live show. I’m sick of all the hanging about, but it’s necessary for the job.

Chi: It’s the gig, and then hanging about to meet everybody, over the last couple of gigs especially we’ve had people coming up saying ‘you’re my friend on My Space’ and stuff.

Tippi: It’s just the four of us in the band who look after our My Space. So we went down just now and had to deal with sixty messages, but everyone who gets in touch with us, we say if you’re coming to a gig, please come up and say hello! We want to get to know the people, come and say hi, rather than just say oh well that,s great you can make the gig or whatever…we want them to come say hello! We’re going to be do some podcasts as well from live gigs, we’re just going to take an ipod and a mic and get involved with the people from My Space, it’ll be a lot of fun.

I think if you really get everyone involved then you get a good fanbase, and everyone’s behind you.

Tippi: Absolutely.

Now the world of rock music is pretty much dominated by guys – so what’s it like being a girl band on the road? Do you get any shit from guys?

Tippi: No, none at all!

Chi: I think when we first come into a gig, and people are all like ‘ bunch of lasses’, then we’ll go up for sound check and they’ll see what we’re all about – and after the gig we never hear another peep out of them! We know we’re as good, if not better, than out male counterparts, so we’ve got nothing to worry about. We go up and we do what we do, and we know that all they can say it ‘ oh they’re just girls’

Tippi: ..and we’re like..whatever! We believe 150% in what we’re doing, that’s all that matters really. There’s bit of satisfaction in it when we go up and do a great gig…and then people start spitting beer at appreciation [laughs[

And you’re in good company now – there’s some great girl bands out there, The Delilahs, The Pipettes etc, do you think girl bands are on the up?

Tippi: It would be great wouldn’t it. We always talk about this, wouldn’t it be brilliant to be the first girl rock punk band, because there hasn’t’ really been one so far. There are different things that have happened in the past, but wouldn’t it be great . I think it’s just about changing people’s mind’s , I mean people walk into a gig and just think ‘ oh it’s 4 girls’ , they have this perception..but this is not about the fact that we’re girls..that just makes it all fun. Especially when you’re all sharing a room at the..hotel!

Chi: ..and you’ve had more than a few beers!

Tippi:..and we fight over the bathroom!

Girls on tour! Right – so whilst you’re playing your first festival – who would be your ideal festival line up – 4 bands, dead or alive..

Tippi: Two bands each then. Mine would be Led Zeppelin, and…oh no..this is too hard! Um…Iggy Pop and the Stooges..

Chi: Mine would be Nirvana…as I never got to see them before Kurt decided to leave us, and…who else…The Smashing Pumpkins. I know they’re meant to be reforming.

All the old bands seem to be getting back together at the moment!

Chi: The money must’ve run out! [laughs]

Tippi: And The Pixies. And the Foo Fighters.

Chi: And the Desaparecidos – if you’re gonna have more then I want another one! [laughs]

And since you guys are so involved with My Space, I’ve got a little version of the typical My Space bulletin quiz…which I seem to spend my life filling in…starting off…what’s your favourite shot?

Tippi: Black sambuca for me

Chi: Jagermeister

Oh that’s evil stuff..and what’s your favourite hangover cure?

Tippi: A glass of fat free milk [laughs]

Chi: It’s Lucozade Sport for me [laughs] It seems to work – or Irn Bru, but you can’t seem to get it down here.

Going back to bands reforming – if you could have any band reform, which band would it be?

Tippi: It would have to be Led Zeppelin, for one show only though.

Chi: Mansun. I had tickets to go see them and they turned me away at the door because I was underage and then they split up, and I never had the chance to see them! Heartbroken!

What CD do play the most? What’s your current favourite?

Tippi: When I’m on tour and on the tour bus I always play Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side of The Moon’

Chi: Probably ‘Read Music Speak Spanish’ by The Desaparecidos, it’s quite a funky album.

And who’s the most annoying girl on the tour bus?

Tippi: Soup! [laughs]

Chi: Soup without a doubt [laughs]

Tippi: She tells these awful 1970’s jokes and they’re crap and she just laughs to herself..

Chi: She just laughs to herself for hours.

What kind of stuff do you guys get up to on the tour bus to keep yourselves amused?

Tippi: We’ve got this motto…what goes on on tour..stays on tour [laughs]

Fair enough! And apart from Rosie’s filling falling out..what’s been the worst thing to happen on tour?

Tippi: [laughs] We left the tax disc in Glasgow! We were like 40 minutes out of Glasgow and we had to turn round and drive all the way back to the garage..

What’s your strangest habit?

Tippi: That’s a toughie. I’m crap in the mornings, so I always take myself off for a walk or everyone would fall out with me [laughs]

Chi: I always pick my nail polish..I’ll paint my nail black and then look [shows her nails] I chip it all off! There’s none left [laughs]

And there anything you’d like to say to the readers of Crossfire?

Tippi: If you are going to come to Download and see us, do check out our my space and it you join our mailing list at you’ll get some free tracks to download. And they’ll be lots of freebies on there, and the podcasts are coming soon.

Chi: And if you come to a gig, please come up and say hey, we want to know that you’re human!

Tippi: And we’ll give you a free badge!!

The Hedrons play on the Snickers Stage at Download on Saturday 10th June.

For further info check out and


Big Hand Interview

Take four very different personalities, a huge dose of easy going Caribbean vibe, an effervescent live show and a lot of experience chaperoning Slipknot and the like, and the result is a ska outfit – Big Hand.

With an ever growing fan base and now legendary live shows, the four piece are going from strength to strength, and with their debut album in the pipeline at Air Studios, the famous four took some time to chat about what it’s all about with Dee Massey.

Big Hand first sprung to life in 1999 and it wasn’t until last year that the line up was finalized. How do you feel that the current line up compares to the original one? What does each individual member bring to the band?

Tim: The original line up was a real random collection of 4 very different individuals, all very random, chaotic and intense, with a real free anarchic spirit, different demons and ambitions, and all these crazy ideas. That’s still true with this line up, its just that with the old line up, we had many moments of magic, but the whole thing just didn’t really gel, and it was still beautiful, but more volatile and unstable. Now, the band has the same kind of spirit to it, but it just works as a unit, like we’re all really on a wavelength, so there’s strength and unity to it.

In terms of what we all bring – I bring the songs, the flower-power positivity, the funk, and the dandyness, Luke brings the world-wise industry head together know-how, the energy and driving force, as well as the pounding bass undercurrent that moves it all, Paul brings the ROCK, the cheeky sense of humour, the fine ear for detail, the amazing ability to sing and play drums like a warrior, and the boy-band approachability, and Phil brings pure randomness, poetry (he is the new Robert Burns for real), the unusual instruments, the eclectic stage performance.

In the space of a year you’ve gone from opening at the Barfly to almost selling it out as top of the bill, and played to such a huge range of audiences, from the Edinburgh Festival through to a Russian wedding?

Phil: People deep down seem to want to enjoy themselves / release themselves from various every day tensions and there ain’t no place to do quite like a dance floor to some proper intense euphoric zorbanian psyskadellic ska beats man.

Known and played together since you were teenagers what were your main influences then, and what kind of stuff are you listening to now?

Paul: The band have always had a real variety in the music we listen to. The main influences when the band started were the likes of Manu Chao, The Specials, Jimmy Cliff, Tom Waites and early Chilli Peppers. All of us listen to different styles of music and listen to as broad a range of music as possible to get as many different influences we can – I think that gives us versatility and depth to our songs. The main stuff played in the BH tour bus at the moment is The Slackers, The Cat Empire, The Killers, Jimmy Eat World, Devandra Barnhart & KT Tunstall (partly because Luke fancies the hell out of dark haired women that play Telecasters).

Luke, having spent seven odd years in the music industry that must give you invaluable insight for managing the band?

Luke: To an extent it helps to have a lot of friends that are still deep in the industry that I can ask for advice on stuff and have had experience of how a show is run etc. However there is nothing that can prepare you for living it yourself.

Knowing both sides of the coin must give you a solid foundation for the band?

Luke: Again on some levels this is true but it can make you overly cynical and I don’t think there is such a thing as a solid foundation for a band. We all work pour asses off and take pride in what we do. In any walk of life this will get you places and if the band didn’t have that I wouldn’t have got involved in the first place.

Also how does working with the likes of Slipknot etc compare to being in a ska band?

Luke: I miss my expenses account..

You’ve spent quite a bit of time recording this year. What you enjoy more touring or recording?

Phil: I live for the live shows, it’s like an addiction man. If I don’t get my live addrenalin fix I get very edgy, very true! just ask my pet gnome Eggbert.

Recording at Air. How did that come about, and how did it feel to be recording on such hallowed ground? Are we about to witness a charity single a la BandAid20?

Paul: Don’t worry, the folk in Big Hand would never dream of doing a charity single al la BandAid 20 as we only have each other! The recording came about when a producer at Air studios saw the band play their first London Barfly show and was blown away by the band. He’s into ska music but was impressed with our take on it and was really keen to work with us, so invited us into Air for a few days recording.

Air studios is one of the most amazing places we have ever seen and the first day consisted mainly of us trying to stop dribbling and keeping our jaws off the floor! Singing into £20,000 microphones and being behind a mixing desk that looks like it has come straight from the Starship Enterprise really blows your head and makes you pinch yourself to make sure you’re really there.

The guys were really happy with how we worked, so after the initial recording, we were invited back to record our debut album. We’ve now completed all of the planning and preparation and the main recording is well under way. Working with producers and engineers with the gravitas and knowledge of Chris Nuttall, Tony Clarke and Adam Noble has been a real privilege and we can’t wait until the album is on the shelves near you…!

In the studio, who takes artistic control?

Luke: To be honest when it comes down to studio stuff it’s a pretty even keel, when we’re recording and mixing we all tend to get focus on what we are doing as individuals rather than worrying about the overall sound which is where having a producer is essential.

How involved were you in the production of your EPs Right and Wrong and Light and Dark and Light?

Luke: We bought in our live engineer Mixmaster Matt to help with the final mix and master on all the tracks but other than that the first 2 EPs were entirely self recorded, produced and mixed.

Who writes most of your material?

Luke: Tim comes up with the chords and melody for 99% of the stuff we then sit down and work it out as a band with everyone chipping in on what sounds best. We also tend to test drive stuff live for a few months before we record it.

What can your fans expect from the new EP?

Luke: Something to play loud as fuck that will make the neighbours smile.

Last year was a busy year for you guys 85 shows, a move down South, studio time in Air and this year with 125 booked looks like life is fairly manic. What’s been your best experience this year?

Tim: So many gigs stick in my head as incredible sights etched onto my memory, like being all dolled up in our suits in front of a sold out garage, the floor shaking at the Left Bank with these beautiful girls at the front properly moshing, our homecoming at the Bongo club with all our home crowd welcoming us back. The one thing that really gets me though is when we were in Air, which was mind-blowing in itself, like full on jaw-dropping wide-eyed craziness, all the magical gadgets and famous artists they had there. In particular, at one point, we set up the acoustic guitars, loaded up a video camera, and just played for 3 hours, and right at the end, when they’d all got tired, I played Hallelujah, and the place properly felt like a church, and i could feel all these benevolent spirits flowing around me, wishing me well sort of thing, and the time stood still.

So why should your average music bum come see you guys live? What do you have that no one else does? What should people leave your shows feeling?

Paul: The real unique attribute we have is 4 true frontmen – from Tim on guitar and lead vocals, myself on drums and lead vocals, and with Luke on bass and Phil ‘is he on drugs’ Ramsay giving all the energy and enthusiasm that is humanly possible on a stage. We love being on stage and enjoy every show we play, whether it is to 3 people or 3000 – If you don’t enjoy what you play on stage, you shouldn’t be there!

There is also a real depth to the songs we play, which means if you’re not in the mood to dance and forget all your worries, there is enough in the lyrics, melodies, harmonies and progression of the songs to keep even the most cynical of music buffs entertained.

We have recently been hailed as the ‘cure for an overweight generation’ and are proud of this. Everyone who sees Big Hand should leave with a smile on their face. If they don’t we’ll give them their money back (honestly!)

Lastly, is 2006 going to be the year Big Hand takes the world by storm?

Tim: You know, in a way, but we won’t properly have conquered the masses fully until next year. Its like 2006 is a year of planting all these beautiful little seedpods all over the place, and people with their ears to the ground will hear all these peculiar rumblings underground, like elves plotting a revolution but keeping it kind of sly. Then suddenly in 2007, everything will burst out into the open in a blaze of colour, like the day of the triffids but with electric spangly ska demons instead of man-eating plants, and it will be all anyone will want to talk about.

Your big ones….(a la Pop World…only without Simon Anstell)

Favourite venue to play?

Phil: I prefer smaller venues, lets you interact more with the audience in an intimate way, Mmmmmmm intimate. Ok, em…..would say Whistle Binkies in Edinburgh was my favourite venue, it’s like roots man.

Best post-pub delicacy?

Luke: My bro is a chef and also a big fan of the band so we’ll frequently end up coming back to mine after a gig and he’ll cook for us. Everything he’s done so far has been amazing. Failing that Shebab in Shepherds Bush is a fave as it’s on the N207 route and amazing!

Who’s the most annoying person in the band?

Tim: Well, we can all be stubborn moody little devils. On balance, probably me though.

Most overplayed CD you own?

Paul: The Cat Empire (1,4,5) and The Slackers (Peculiar)

Edinburgh or London?

Paul: Both are special in different ways – Two of the band are Scottish and two are from London. We know Edinburgh like the back of our hands and is the place that really feels like home for the band. We’ve done some awesome shows there and always love going back. In saying that, we moved to London as Edinburgh is small and doesn’t have nearly as much opportunity to develop as a band. We are always looking to push ourselves as much as we can and gain as much experience as we can. There is no better place to do that than in London.

We want to play to as many people as possible and will play any show we are asked to, if we feasibly can (See North Berwick Scout Hall show…) Scottish crowds are insane. London crowds warm up quickly and then let it all out!

Worst habits of band members?

Luke: On occasion some of the members in the band are able to catch me with really annoying questions just as I’m in the middle of something important. EG (talking to the promoter) – ‘So is it cool to get 9 passes and I need two phot….’ At which point someone will butt in with ‘So Luke do we get a rider of 20 Carlsberg or 19 Grolsh for our show in 7 months…’ other than that not much really. Oh and I’m the grumpiest bastard in the world until I’ve had a diet coke in the morning…

Worst experience on tour?

Tim: Attracting the attention of some little vampire goths in Belgium, them following us back to the left-wing anarchist squat where we were staying, before they reveal their secret right-wing allegiance, and land us in a whole heap of trouble before we drunkenly manage to explain in French that we are an anti-nazi ska band, that these mini-tearaways were just misguided attention seekers, and so on. 3 hours of stoned sleep in a festering armchair put me in fine spirits for the early flight the next day. Nothing but the best for the hand.

Home comforts?

Phil: Give me at least 2 bottles of buckfast and I will feel at home anywhere

3 things you never go on tour without?

Tim: hip flask, chess set, hat
Luke: Paul, Tim and Phil
Phil: – A copy of the Daily Sport (tits and comedy man, genius!), my 1906 undertakers top hat and voices in my head.

For further information and to listen to some tunes check out or

Big Hang play The Barfly, Camden on May 4th.

Dee Massey