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Captain Stavros Interviews Broncho

 

I've been going to gigs at the MOTH since I moved to London just over 7 years ago and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd ever make it past the red velvet rope in front of the long wooden staircase that leads backstage, let alone twice in the past 2 weeks. As I climb over it now I've got one leg on either side of the rope, I've been left unsupervised and told I could head on up. My right foot's gone over and sets down gingerly on the other side as to not trigger any pressure alarms. One one thousand, two one thousand, okay I think it's safe. There's no meaty paw on my shoulder or 'HEY YOU!' bellowed in my general direction so I proceed with caution. I knock on the doors at the top of the steps and enter on tip-toe. I'm greeted by Gavin the tour manager who's writing out the setlists by hand. Just over his shoulder on my right is a spread of antipasti laid out for band and crew that I'm eyeing, I can't help wondering when the last time I ate was. Also to my right is Ryan (Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar) of Broncho, he's got a paper plate wrapped around a bunch of merchandise in his one hand and a roll of duct tape in the other. 

Ryan looks over at me as he signs the plate, 'it's a Birthday Burrito' he smiles. Looking at Ryan all I see is Sam Rockwell's double, he also sounds an awful lot like Rockwell, I tell him this. 'Nobody's ever said that to me before' he says 'I'll take it as a compliment' it's definitely meant as one. 'Wait, I hear Ben's sick, are you forging his signature?' I ask deciphering penmanship surprisingly worse than my own for once. 'I'm forging everyone's signature' he says with bravado in an I-won't-tell-if-you-don't smile he pegs me with. I've inadvertently become an accessory to fraud by proxy, both thrilling and exciting. Ryan goes on saying this is a present for a little girl who's just turned 10. She's come over from France with her parents to celebrate her birthday here at the gig. I don't even remember my tenth birthday but I'm confident she'll never forget hers. 

The doors behind me swing open Penny (Bassist) casually walks in and over to a chair where she dumps a few outer layers of clothing. Ren Harvieu's playing downstairs and her set is being piped in backstage. I realize it's just about half finished, I need to get this show on the road. 

Cpt: A few years back I saw Bat For Lashes and Natasha (Lead Vocals) was dancing on stage to her own music and I thought, wow, how meta to be dancing to the very music you've created. I've always wondered what's that gotta be like. By extension what's it like for you when you hearing yourselves on TV, Film or radio (episode of Girls and Film 43) I've seen myself on TV once and it was surreal, real weird stuff like I was in a Fellini movie or something. Okay okay, I'm getting sidetracked here. 

Ryan: Hey, I love getting sidetracked 

Cpt: Okay, but what is it like? 

Ryan: I don't really know, I don't find myself in...those circumstances. I did hear about the Girls thing, but lots of times I don't see the stuff. It's great for my Mom, she loves it. It's more of like doing it for everyone else in my life you know? My parents get proud when I'm in something and my Brothers get proud you know? And that's what it's all about. Because I can't think that way about stuff because I don't want to start searching that stuff out, I like living in the moment. 

Cpt: No, you're right, I get what you mean. I guess I mean not actively searching it out but you're in the moment at a friends place or a car or something and there's your voice and it's not coming out of your mouth at present. 

Ryan: There have been a couple of times where I've been somewhere like at a restaurant or something and a Broncho song will come on and you just get embarrassed. 

Cpt: That's so sweet, I can totally relate about the embarrassment part. I feel like everything I do, say, or remember doing or saying leads me to embarrassment. 

This is especially true of listening to this interview the next day, the first I've ever recorded. Totally embarrassing. 

Cpt: Penny, could I encroach on your thoughts regarding this subject? How do you feel about it, when your music is in media you or your friends watch/listen to? 

Penny: You get texts from friends a lot who will be watching something somewhere random at a random time. 

Cpt: I'm guilty of this. On my side though, they're not friends, they're usually just bands I'm harassing but I dunno, I'm proud of them as they're just breaking out and getting into the spotlight. 

Penny: I guess I was watching a show on Netflix once and, that A-Typical show, had a Broncho song in it so when it came up I was kinda like, it took me a minute to recognize it. 

Cpt: Really? 

Penny: Well yeah, first you're like who's ripping us off? Or who did we rip off accidentally? 

Ryan: There are times where I'll hear one of our songs out and about and it takes me a while to figure out that it is us. 

Cpt: Okay, my last and probably most embarrassing question. You've formed in Oklahoma right? 

Ryan: Uh-huh. 

Cpt: Okay, great. When I think Oklahoma I think stagecoaches, traveling from one side of America to the other. 

Ryan: Horses. 

Cpt: Pardon me? 

Ryan: HORSES. 

Cpt: Ya, look... 

Ryan: Ti-pies 

At this point the interview has derailed and I try an old Jedi mind trick to get it back on track. I divulge that I've recently bought a comforter cover with a Western motif to it, you know like Cowboys, Bank Robbers that sorta thing. To date no one living, or dead, has seen it. I'm not given an opportunity to finish my train of thought when Penny nearly spits-out what she was drinking to laugh, and in the process confirms my suspicions of what would happen if a woman did ever see this, comforter of mine.  The interview is back on track-ish though and that's what really counts. 

Cpt: I just love that whole frontier lifestyle. 

Ryan: You know what's more Frontier than Oklahoma? Oregon. When I go to Oregon I feel like I'm actually in the West. 

Penny: That's because you are. 

Cpt: Ahahaha (my turn to laugh) 

Ryan: Cause I am. Oklahoma's just, not in the West, we're central. 

Cpt: I've obviously got a misconception of what Oklahoma is and where because all I can think of is the musical when I hear that word. Like the burning word into canvas or something. 

Penny: Rodgers and Hammerstein. My idea of Oklahoma is 'Middle-America', everything average. 

Ryan: Our whole motto is, Oklahoma, we're O-K. 

This is an O-K place to stop our interview because it's almost time for the show and Ryan's gotta take this burrito/forgery concoction to the birthday girl. I make my way downstairs to my usual booth by the stage. Ren's band has nearly torn down their setup and the nice Portuguese couple who I've asked to save my seat have actually saved it, Louisa moves her bag for me and smiles while her boyfriend Louis comes back with some beers. 'Everyone always comments on our names' they say when I comment on their names. I notice Security heading towards our booth and he locks eyes with me like a heat seeking missile on its target, I tense up, there's nowhere to go, the jig is up. 'Good evening' he addresses us, 'there's a young girl here with her family tonight, would it be alright if they join you at this booth?' 'BRING THE BIRTHDAY GIRL OVER!' I yell probably a little too loudly judging from the shock/horror on the faces (security included) around me, but relief takes many different forms some weird, some ugly and some loud. 

After the set, which goes out like a light just as fast as it came on, I head towards to stage to nab a setlist. Gavin nonchalantly strolls over and says, 'this is the one with the songs we actually played, it's correct' I thank him profusely and he tells me to stick around because they'll be having drinks. Usually people are asking me to leave so it takes a moment to sink in and I smile stupidly but he's already left to tear down. I do end up sticking around and that's where I meet Nathan (Percussion). 

'Nice shoes' I say. Nathan plops down next to me, 'Hey' he says 'you're that guy that was doing the interview right?' 'Yes' I say, 'you're the guy that wasn't around to get interviewed, right?' with a smile that hopefully reads with a lot less sarcasm than it does here. 'Yeah, sorry about that, I was napping. If I don't get a nap in before I'm useless.' 'I hear that' I say empathizing as I too have stolen 40 winks before heading out tonight. I immediately steer the conversation back towards the Nike Special Field Air Force 1s in Khaki/Coral he's rocking (I'm a bit of a sneaker freaker). 'They're new' he says, 'I'm not sure how I feel about them, but they are comfortable'. 'Sir, they are spot on, can't go wrong with an AF1.' The conversation flows naturally (for once in my life) between shoes, second hand clothes, the excellent light show his crew put on and I make suggestions on a few more pairs of kicks he might want to look into and ask him to e-mail me if he needs advice, 'don't be surprised if I do'. The latter part of the evening is a game of musical chairs. Broncho's got a wide fan base but on this night it's made up of fans, friends, family and colleagues. Execs have flown in from California to tour with them, friends from Oklahoma living in London have come out and Label mates show up too including Phil who I've been communicating with over e-mail of Park The Van Recordshe introduces himself to me and we finally get acquainted (got me here to review this gig, hi/thanks Phil if you're reading this!). 

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Wild Nothing, Village Underground, London + Interview With J. Fernandez

 

It's a little after 7:30pm when doors open, a queue's already formed, taking up the better part of a block. I'm led through a small nondescript cement concourse by security that gives way to a set of arena style doors. My guest and I push through and we enter the warmly lit catacombs otherwise known as the Village Underground, a.k.a one of my favourite London venues. 'Wow, look at all this fog' my guest says as we spelunk our way deeper inside. It's true, about the fog I mean, I don't know if they're paying the guy on the fog machine by the cloud but I cannot see three feet ahead of me. The music hasn't even started yet and I need a fog horn to find my way to the bar. If this heavy handed individual operating the fog-o-nator™  moonlights as an anesthesiologist we're all in really big trouble. After a quick glance over at the merchandise table with nothing really catching our eye we head to the stage. We secure a place against the barrier in one of the few pockets left near center stage.

Enter J. Fernandez (@jfernandezsongs) an as yet unknown to us Chicago native with a following (which I am willing to bet good money will swell after this tour) of just under a 1000. He's carrying a yellow tote bag that looks more like he's returning overdue books to the library rather than setting up the gear for his set. Dropping the bag off by the drum kit the band gets into their positions, but something else has my attention by the drums. It looks like someone's knocked over a bottle of beer. Unnoticed it rests on its side and the contents presumably spill out in an unhurried fashion much the way the music flows out of this band. The tunes set their own clip which varies as unpredictably as it does pleasantly. Laid-back J. Fernandez rolls in like a smooth breeze. The track 'Common Sense' off the newly released Occasional Din sounds equal parts zou bisou bisou, with a dash of sunshine cabana and a scattering of bum bum bums, you try and do a better job describing it why don'tchya? This album gives Mark Mothersbaugh a run for his money. Occasional Din feels like a Wes Anderson character, and like that beer that's spilling its guts out by the drum kit, they're both doing something naughty or interesting. They're unconcerned, doing their own thing like no one is watching. At the same time though everyone is watching and has their eyes on it (I definitely cannot take my eyes off of it) I mean them. J. Fernandez' music reminds me of a sound byte I once heard of St. Vincent describing how she practices playing and writing her music. She was taught to people watch, live or on TV, and translate their characteristics and personalities into music. With J's music I've got a feeling the writing process probably works in a similar manner as the notes seem to practically lift off and take flight from the lyrics. Or maybe not? Who cares? It sounds great, let's not overthink it. 

After a few songs J turns around likely parched and is looking for his now spilled beer, but reaching down we find out what looked like a beer, wait for it, turns out to be a bottle of cough syrup. The creative process is a weird and wild ride I think to myself as he removes the cap and takes a few swigs on stage. He casually explains away what most people are probably thinking, which is to say he might have a problem. Between swigs, he assures us he's got it under control and that he's just got a little tickle in his throat, who am I to judge? The music works! It stabs and burrows into your heart and mind like a knife with a full tang, beautifully balanced with a wonderful harmony. The keys add a bunch of fun sounds too from instruments unseen like harpsichords, xylophones, melodicas and much more. This sorcery gives the small ensemble a larger than life feel on stage, would recommend.

Between sets I'm doing a bit of self reflection, how was it that I came upon Wild Nothing (@WildNothing) in the first place? It feels like forever since Gemini and later Nocturne came out and after that the group sorta fell through the cracks in my mind. That being said whenever one of their tunes pops up on shuffle I take my phone out of my pocket and look at the display and think, 'oh yeah, Wild Nothing, I dig these cats', they always grabs my attention. Unfortunately as my phone slides back into my pocket my attention fades out and falters. I general have a better memory and affinity for the groups I've seen and enjoyed live. It's not that I don't have a 'like like' relationship with Wild Nothing, but I would say we had a brief tiff in 2016 that made us start seeing other people.

I'll be the first to admit it, I'm a flawed person, I make mistakes, and my judgment of Wild Nothing's abilities to perform live based on a single performance I caught at Primavera all those years ago was wrong. VERY wrong. Back in 2016 the waves were crashing onto the beach of Barcelona's Primavera Sound during the day and washing away Jack's music. The crowd was also sparse, to be fair the space was large. I've since then come to realize they didn't get a fair shake. Yes, this was a lacklustre performance, but was this the best time and place to see them? Wild Nothing shouldn't be slotted into a line up, they should be the line up. Readers, I'm ashamed to say, I went into the very gig I'd be reviewing with the preconceived notions of possibly strongly disliking the performance I was about to see. I'm a big fan of second chances though so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. With the fog machine(s) turned up to 11 and the lights turned all the way down Jack Tatum's Wild Nothing took the stage between the shadows and pools of light.

The set started off with 'Nocturne', which is a brilliant way to start a set because thinking back it's not a regular song. 'Nocturne' is the type of song that puts you on your back foot because you can't really remember it starting, it's just there already playing full of sound and energy. It's a lot like picking up the thread of a conversation with a close friend a close friend you've not seen in a while. What better metaphor to sum up the relationship I've had with this group. I'm in love all over again, I'm hooked. I imagine a conversation between myself and Jack talking about our silly spat through his lyrics going something like this.

Jack:

You wanna know me?
What's to know?
To amuse you
When the night is slow?

Captain:

Am I twisted?
What can I say?

And will you stay up just to tempt me
One more night of your company

I know where to find you
I know where you go
And I just want to let you know
You can have me
You can have me all

 Jack darling, I'm back and you can have me! The performance is completely stripped of all distraction and unnecessary aesthetics. No gimmicks, banter or costumes here, just whirlwind and sound closing in around grabbing your full attention and putting it in front of you where it belongs. Jack's hushed vocals and synthesized goodness is all velvet and stars. Transitions between songs are swift and consist of, 'hello' or 'this is a new track', 'I'd like to introduce the band now' there is no time wasted and for an hour twenty, they've played 16 tracks three of which are an encore. Jack and the band  make the experience completely about the listener, not the city they're in or how the crowd feels tonight. The only indulgence they allow themselves is one I feel only I can see. I'm right up against the barrier and in that dimly lit space (think the realm of the shadow people or something, see pics) I catch each member at one point or another breaking character as they steal a stealthy smile for few seconds losing themselves in the cheers and applause from their audience.

Noteworthy performances by both Matthew Kallman (sax) and Jeff Haley (bassist). When Jeff lays into the bassline for 'Flawed Translation' off their latest Indigo I am fucking floored; it should be restricted from minors. It has to be one of the sexiest basslines I've heard in recent years I'd liken it to Metronomy's 'She Wants'. Totally fucking excellent, this one's definitely going on my 'dim the lights' playlist. Matty K, or Saxmaster K as he shall be known henceforth, has everyone eating out of the palm of his hand whenever he picks up that gleaming brass off the floor. I especially enjoyed his work on 'Paradise' from Nocturne. It was a crowd favourite. If you twisted my arm to be critical about any one aspect from Wild Nothing's performance that night I'd have to say not enough sax and bass.

This review has been one of the more challenging ones because putting Wild Nothing into words when they can't even stick to a genre is quite near impossible. Wikipedia lists them as an: Indie rock, Dream pop, Chillwave, Synth-pop, New wave, Shoegazing, Post-punk revival and although that's more than a mouthful they're not wrong. I've always been a firm believer in less is more but Wild Nothing's genre defiant ways challenges those notions. They keep adding layers upon layers without watering down the broth. If (you should) go see them, learn from my mistakes. Do-not wait to see them smashed together with a running list of 50 other headliners during the summer festival season, see them now, if you can (do it).

Bonus Interview with J Fernandez!

There was no way I was going to casually bump into any musicians tonight for a short chat because who'd stray from an unobstructed view at a sold out gig? So I hollered at J.F. over the internets and he came back to me. 

Cpt: I'm a big fan of pizza, you're from Chicago so I gotta ask, is deep dish your go-to?

J: As far as Chicago pizza goes, I like deep dish but it’s not my first choice when I’m thinking pizza. I prefer thinner crust. My favorite pizza spots in Chicago are Middle Brow Bungalow and Reno. I also feel that root beer is the perfect beverage to have with pizza.

Cpt: Root beer, classic. I'd always order a root beer whenever we ate out and had burgers because it wasn't something we'd keep in the house. It's a beverage with a special place in my heart. Next question. If you could place one of your songs on any soundtrack which would it be?

J:Not sure if the music would go well with any of the films, but it would be nice to have either 'Common Sense' or 'Light Yeahs' playing somewhere in a Mike Leigh film.

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Musos' Guide Catches Up With The Winachi Tribe

 

I got my first live taste of The Winachi Tribe last summer at Bearded Theory. I’ve been following them since our first interview back in 2015 and it’s about time for a catch-up with their frontman, Liam Croker. After headlining the Showcase Stage at 2018’s edition of BT, the Academy Of Music And Sound, who run the showcase, picked the band to open the main stage at this year’s festival. Liam was googling the festival last week and our review popped up. The last line of the article is “Hopefully we'll see them on one of the bigger stages next time”, and it proved to be prophetic as they’ll be playing the Pallet Stage with The Cult, Reef, and The Angelic Upstarts on Saturday May 25.

That’s a long way off right now and the Tribe’s first shows of 2019 will be in Medina, Italy. In February, they’ll play two exclusive headline shows for one of Italy's most iconic fashion brands, Pantofola d'Oro. It’s the type of collaboration that most bands would kill for; flying off to exotic locations and getting the corporate treatment. “You can never plan too far ahead. You don’t know what’s around the corner. This has practically fallen in our laps.”

“It all came about when they got us to play an outdoor show on Carnaby Street in London. Duff McKagan from Guns 'N' Roses, Mark Collins from The Charlatans and Paulo Di Canio were all in the audience watching us.” says Liam, “Last year started with gigs in Hollywood, this year it will be Italy. It makes us feel it’s working and we’re a global band. We’re not just a Manchester band, or a band from the Northwest. It’s a big round planet and we want to appeal to the world.”

Meeting Duff was a big deal for a guy who was raised on G'N'R’s masterpiece, Appetite For Destruction. “I was having a pint with Mark Collins and Sam came in saying he’s just seen Duff McKagan outside. So I finished my pint and strolled out and saw him. I gave him a massive hug. Funnily enough, he’s from Seattle near a place called Wenatchee. It’s spelled differently but it’s still Winachi. He came down to watch us and was cheering ‘Winachi, Winachi!’”

Now they’ve the chance to work with the Italian fashion giants again and, for Liam and the band,  it’s an alternative medium for getting the music out there. Their last release was the Grammy-nominated ‘Transition’ last summer and we’ve been anticipating a follow-up since then. “We’ve new songs recorded already with John X co-producing. He’s a great friend of the band. He’s worked with The Rolling Stones, Bowie, Madonna... Now we’re searching for the right moment, and right medium, to release the new songs. There’ll definitely be a new song out before the summer touring starts. We don’t want to spunk away these great tunes. You have to be patient. You gotta be resilient. We’ve got so many songs ready to go, it’d put Prince to shame, but we don’t want to waste them after working so hard on them.”

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Impressions & Interviews From Rockaway Beach 2019 - Part Two

Breakfast Veggie Sausage/Pancake Overload - The Orielles 3.0

I woke up with a start from my editor in chief announcing it was breakfast time. Can't argue with that. In case I haven't rambled on enough about what all you can eat from the buffet each day, it was excellent. Well, aside from the pensioners avoiding the carefully laid out plastic tongs to serve themselves and instead use their meaty, fleshy, appendages instead. I noticed this only after my third helping on the last day, too late now! Upon getting yet another helping of veggie sausages and pancakes I noticed a slightly worse for wear Henry in the queue. As I'm without shame I thought I'd shimmy my way into the queue and chance a 'howdy'.

Cpt: Good morning Mr. Henry, I just wanted to say I really enjoyed your set last night.

Henry: (drops ladle of beans for his toast with a start and readies himself for an attack) Oh hey, thanks man. Hey, aren't you the guy that said getting the setlist last night was your Silver Dollar Moment?

Cpt: The very same! Best venue in Toronto, or used to be.

Henry: Yeah, we were sad to see it go, have you ever been?

Cpt: Yeah, it was the place I first saw the now defunct 'Hot Springs' We'd travel 3 hours to get to that venue.

Alex walks by.

Henry: Hey Alex, what's your name (pointing to me)?

Cpt: Inner monologue 'Don't say Captian Stavros' Ca....Steven.

Henry: This is Steven!

Alex: Hey Steven.

Alex clearly wanted to start scarfing his breakfast, who am I to judge? I'd just downed 3 of them.

Cpt: I hear you (to Alex) ate a fuck-ton of these veggie sausages.

Alex: Veggie whaaaa?

Henry: That was actually me, I love them. My Mum only lets me have 3 so I kinda went out of control and had 8 or more yesterday.

Cpt: Wow, no judgment. I discovered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 15 and ate them exclusively for every meal for an entire month.

Henry/Alex:...........

Cpt: I see you're wearing a Sport Team (to Alex) t-shirt, I saw them tear the Scala apart, a most excellent gig.

Henry/Alex: That was a great show! (Both start singing Sport Team songs at the top of their lungs).

At this point we parted ways so they could enjoy their breakfast but if you're reading this Henry and Alex I shot Sports Team a message and they said, 'send them our regards!'.

Squid (@squidbanduk)

I had missed Squid on Tuesday when they played the Old Blue Last. I'd mismanaged my time and only have myself to blame, but boy-howdy, do I regret it. Squid was the first act of the afternoon on the third day, you can imagine what I expected. Nothing. I was just there to get some pics for the blogs and hadn't even heard their stuff at this point. They rolled out on stage and from their first notes I was hooked.

Ollie and the boys cranked the fuck out of the tunes with lyrics like 'HOUSE PLANTS, HOUSE PLANTS, HOUSE PLANTS!' and 'Decoration is not behaviour!'. The music was all energy and colour and this had to have been the most energetic afternoon band of the whole weekend. The crowd was full of hungover dinosaurs but Squid got hoots and hollers from all the geriatrics. I wanted to grab a quick chin-wag with them but unfortunately they hightailed it out of Butlins as per their Insta-Story. I dropped them a line and I surprisingly got a pretty speedy response.

Cpt: Just caught your act, I'm doing a small thing for Muso's Guide, was wondering if you wanted to be in it? Really dug your sound and had some questions about your lyrics, what was your inspiration for 'decoration is not behaviour'?

Squid: The song is about a theory of mine that people our age buy houseplants as a means to distract themselves from how terrifyingly bleak our future is. May never be able to buy a house but we can rent on and fill it to the brim with houseplants.

Cpt: Sharp insight and can't fault your logic (I have in fact felt similar sentiments, guh, London). Pretty sure everyone would identify with the sentiments, I know I do. Can I quote you?

Squid: Of course!

Squid are playing The Lexington this Friday the 18th and the MOTH this month on the 26th. Check 'em out, you will NOT regret it, you WILL regret missing it. Ficus.

Art Brut (@eddieargos)

I've just been informed by my editor this article is due, like, tomorrow so brevity here I come. I checked out Art Brut before I hit Rockaway on the YouTubes. Sounded punkish with a lot of grit and spunk formed in 2005. Fast forward 13 years to a fat, and quite drunk by the looks of it, Eddie Argos. A too short button up shirt with a lot of jumping around and gut hanging out coupled with 5min+ ranty monologues. Jumped (slowly and very gently hopped off stage with a thud) and could not get back up without help from the security guard. End of review.

 

Echo & The Bunnymen (@officialbunnymen)

Do you eat the Olive on a tooth pick atop a comic sandwich first or last? In this case last. Echo and the hoppers took a well spaced stage with the confidence and grace that only rock and rollers that've seen it all can. Throughout their set they also spliced classic favourites like Lou Reed's 'Walk On The Wild Side' and The Doors' 'People Are Strange' (I'm not 100% it was this track even though I was singing it. Why am I this way?). It was the classic set, which even included 'The Killing Moon' the track that my generation discovered this group a-la Donnie Darko. Great lighting and sound and every song sounded like it was being recorded in studio's velvety tones. Observations during the set. Echo has a voice like an angel but when he's talking he's indecipherable. Will Sergeant, I have never seen a dude with more guitars at a gig, I lost count at 8. Weird dry bar on stage in front of the drum kit, from what I could see, consisted of:

Coconut Water

Apple Juice or Beer

Orange Juice or Orange Juice and Vodka

Milk/Milk Plus

A bottle of honey

Wet Naps

Moisturizer

All items were seemingly used and or drunk throughout the course of the gig. There was also a hand towel that was turned into a makeshift football and kicked into the audience. The audience fought over it and a man attempted to rip it out of a woman's hands (he couldn't manage it, you go girl!). With this the weekend came to a close. I can say one thing for certain, I'll never be the same again. I also bought a model of the H.M.S. Bounty at a thrift store for a fiver ( I talked them down from seven), all and all a great time!

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Impressions & Interviews From Rockaway Beach 2019 - Part One

Hi, I'm Steven a.k.a. @CaptainStavros. Brevity and quality writing are not my strong suits. I'm not a writer or photographer but I do know English and my camera has a phone so you'll get some words and pictures, I make no claims on the quality of either.

Day 1 - We catch our train and tuck in for our 2 hour journey to the Butlin's Bognor Regis. Halfway through a bunch of older...dudes? with Liam Gallagher haircuts, a mix of New Balance walking shoes and vintage army coats pile into the seats next to us. In tow they have a carrier on wheels filled with home brew, I shoot Kenny a glance, he shrugs.

Unscathed we disembark and make our way to check in, along the way taking in tunes from a local busker slamming out 'Another One Bites the Dust' and hitting the admirable amount of thrift stores I did not expect to find in a small seaside town. Settled, we make our way over to the Reds stage to catch:

Madonnatron (@madonnatron)

Over all solid performance and a lot of energy for a first day and one of the first acts of the afternoon. I think my most memorable moments from the set were Charlie agreeing with the audience it's 'heartbreaking' that they had only 1 song left. That song was 'Sang Neuf' and I think everyone was equally heartbroken after Charlie held those last notes for what seemed like an eternity. I was hoping to run into them to snag a few soundbites for the article I was mentally composing at this point and found Stefania, Joanie, and Charlie hanging outside on the concourse necking a bottle of Rosé later in the evening. I mustered up my courage trying to politely interrupt saying I'd enjoyed their set earlier that afternoon. I was greated with 'Aw's, 'Thank you SO much'es and punches to my arm to the point where I couldn't make eye contact at which I thought it best to make a hasty exit.

Before the above episode I'd made my way early to the Centre Stage to catch:

Goat Girl (@goatgirlofficial)

I'm not sure if I mentioned but the crowd in attendance was a bit older than I was used to at gigs/festivals, most likely due in part to the headliners. Maximo Park were headlining in a few hours and people were getting in later as it was Day One and they'd had to sneak out of work......or the nursing home. I think a mix of the audience's excitement to see the headliner, it being Friday and the apparent cocktail of booze and powdered substances pushed the crowd to a fever pitch during the track 'Cracker Drool', starting a mad rush to the front of the stage, arms-a-flailing and bodies colliding. As for the band Goat Girl have been floating on the ether in London but for one reason or another I've never seen them live so I'm glad to finally have I caught them even with the rowdy pensioners all about.

I spent the majority of Day Two eating an obscene amount of food at the buffet, I'm looking at you Ice Cream Machine, Cheese Platters and Veggie Sausages. We walked the gluttony off scoping out further thrift stores and stocking up on beer while hitting a few charming pubs. When we were back in fighting form we set out to catch:

Menace Beach (@menace_beach)

A 5 piece collective from Leeds that were new to me. Synthesizers, guitars and keys oh-my! I had a great time watching them, they had tons of sound with a lot of energy and still kept that shit elegant as fuck. Picture Washington with a gallant stroll. Nearing the end of the setlist there was one particular song that really made the set, I was hoping to get my mitts on the set-list to find the track title but when I did get the list, thanks to guitarist Nick Chantler, it simply said 'Nick's Song' great. Nick if by some chance you read this, holler at me and give me a link to that banging track or at the very least a name for it!

Next up:

Algiers (@algierstheband)

I'd seen Algiers where I'd met the Musos' Guide in Chief a few years back at Primavera 2016. They were playing early in the afternoon just before the sun was going down on the same stage as The Savages. It was a big space and their sound was small, yet enjoyable. I think people were still at the beach or nursing hangovers because the crowd was thin, but I enjoyed being able to get up close. This time around it was a totally different situation, the stage was small and the sound was huge.

Frankie, front man for Algiers, came out and introduced himself and the band with that southern gentlemanly charm that's down homegrown in Atlanta GA. He said, 'this is a new song, it hasn't got a name, but let me show you what we're about' and show he did. Frankie's vocals came off as full and in total control of his person. The band had gelled over the years. Bassist Ryan Mahan's interpretive dance styling kept the crowd entertained and the atmosphere light. I hung around after the set and hollered at Frankie while he put his gear away. In a rush but polite we had a short chat:

Cpt: Have you really come all the way here for Rockaway and are you planning any future London gigs?

Frankie: Unfortunately no more scheduled London gigs currently. We're starting the first leg of our 7 week European tour tomorrow with Brussels.

Cpt: I saw you a few years ago and sound has really developed and filled out.

Frankie: Yeah, we've been practicing a LOT since then'.

We chatted a bit about back home, North America, and he said I sounded like I was from New York, which for me was high praise. I shattered his illusions of course saying I was from a small Canadian town. I wished him well on his tour and we exchanged closing pleasantries. With that I'd gotten my first mini-interview on the books.

Barry Adamson (@adamsonbarry)

He came out on stage with 40 years of music behind him and took the crowd like I imagine the crooners did at the Dunes circa 1960s Las Vegas. The man had patter, wearing a champagne blazer with dark sunglasses on stage, he worked the audience and seamlessly transitioned between tracks and genres. After disappearing backstage after his act he returned picking up a bass and playing 'The Light Pours Out Of Me', which landed pretty great as a finale.

Between acts I hit the bar and ran into Nick of Menace Beach who I'd just met earlier that day after their set. I strode up to order a pint and thought I'd chance at chat. I said hi and asked if I could get a bit of back story after seeing them this afternoon, he said sure:

Cpt: Full disclosure, until today I hadn't heard of you guys but I dug what I heard and saw. You guys seem comfortable with each other, seasoned and the sound was great. You guys came out with a fuck ton of energy, especially when M.B. played your song. So tell me what you'd like people to know? Are you touring, what's next?

Nick: Thanks man, well here it is. We're from Leeds and we've just released and toured our third album. We hustled and pushed it around until the end of November. We took some downtime because we're not just Menace Beach, we've got other jobs to to make end meets. We manage tours, design graphics, make prints and design clothes.

Cpt: It sounds pretty intense man, touring's gotta be hard with additional commitments on the side. Will I get to see you in London sometime soon?

Nick: Yeah, I don't wanna sound cynical, booking gigs around London's not the easiest thing in the world, but we're available and want to get out as much as we can.

Cpt: Looking forward to it!

I thanked him for his time and offered to pick up the round but another fan had already beat me to the ticket. We parted and I headed back to the stage to catch the next act.

The Orielles (@theorielles)

The band first caught my ear when I was doing my research for Rockaway. We had music, venues and cinema in common and I was really hoping I'd run into them to have a quick chat before the weekend was done.

I'd left my conversation with Nick and found my spot back up at the barriers. Shortly thereafter The Orielles strolled out onto stage, picked up their instruments and had a false start which Henry, the guitarist, laughed off and told the crowd that it was all part of the act. This carefree and easy performance shown throughout their set. Henry and Alex, on keys, dancing the night away. Sid on drums and Esmé's vocals while on the bass were all smiles and teeth watching their friends cutting a jig. It was a good vibe on stage with quality sound. I have to say that I'm also always a fan of support instruments taking center stage. Like Bloc Party's drums or Flea's bass leading the charge this a-symmetrical structure to music really does it for me. Their set ended off with 'Sugar Tastes Like Salt' their 8+ minute debut single with multiple hooks and a psychedelic twist gave the crowd a run for their money. They left the stage but came back to watch their gear getting broken down and ready for Gary Numan. I took the opportunity to flag down Esmé and Henry for the setlist, I'm a collector, and Esmé came over to hand it to me. I had to vault over some barriers and pray I wouldn't be dive tackled by an overzealous security guard, but it was worth it. All polite chatter and smiles I thanked her for making the effort and with that I was back over the barrier in time for ...

Gary Numan (@garynuman)

This, I was not ready for. What was, for me, a new wave pioneer had transformed and reinvented himself and the stage, into a post apocalyptic, industrial, seizure-inducing Mad Max dystopia. In a cacophony of light and sound G-man blasted out and skull fucked the shit out of me, literally, I could not sleep this night at all after an hour+ of blasting lights directly into my retinas and thunderous sounds into my ear canal. Unlike a lot of artists G didn't shy away from his classic chart topping classics but they were nearly unrecognizable with the newly added industrial edge. I did not not know what to expect next. His band were half band half backup dancer Cirque Du Soleil types skulking about the stage. The crowd was an entirely different story all together. These, 'people'? did not come here for anyone else, they came here for G-man. Traveling from all around the UK and beyond, they paid for a full weekend for one night. I think a better term instead of fan would be cult, minions maybe? Chill, this ain't no diss, I'd just never seen, or been involved in, something like this before. It was something else. I made my way out of the not soon to be forgotten scene and hooked up with Kenny. We were about to make our way home but I suggested swinging through the concourse instead.

The Orielles 2.0

Outside smoking with all the other naughty peeps were none other than Sid and Esmé . I told Kenny I was going to try to get a mini-interview and it would probably get weird so I recommend looking away. I made my way over and tried to the best of my abilities (very limited) to interrupt a conversation they were both in.

Cpt: (Imagine an attempt at the least craziest/creepiest voice) Pardon me, excuse me, I'm sorry but would you mind if I interrupted just for a quick second?

Sid/Esmé/Their Friends: Vague look of indifference and confusion.

Cpt: I just wanted to say thanks so much for taking the time to hand me your setlist.

Esmé: Oh yea, hey, no problem!

Cpt: Hey, since I've got you here I was wondering if I could ask you a few non-standard questions for a music blog if you don't mind? I promise they'll be weird and not, 'who's your influence?' or 'What's it like to be a woman in rock?'

Esmé/Sid: (Look at each other and smile) Sure!

Cpt: Wow, really? Great! Okay, questions number #1 What was your favourite food at breakfast today? Did you try the veggie sausage?

Esmé/Sid: We really liked the veggie sausages, they had-to-have been the winner!

Cpt: Yeah dudes, it tasted like a croquette or something, I had to keep eating them

Esmé: Us too, Henry couldn't stop eating them he; ate like 8 of them or something!

Cpt: Okay, see, that was easy. Question #2 I know you all met at a house party and that was the beginning of The Orielles, but my question to you is which room? My guess is the kitchen.

Esmé: It totally was the kitchen!

Sid: It was not the kitchen.

Esmé: Oh yeah, you're right, I wish it had been the kitchen though!

Cpt: Me too, kitchen parties are always the best (I kid you not readers, I was overflowing with mediocrity).

Esmé/Sid: We met upstairs in one of the bedrooms.

Cpt: (Eyebrows raise)

Esmé/Sid: That's where they piano was, in one of the bedrooms. Henry and Alex were fooling around (playing music) on it and Sid and I sat on either side of them and started playing and that was that.

Cpt: I can almost see it now.

At this point I was getting serious tunnel vision and I was about to throw up from nerves if I'm honest. I thought about how much fun it would've been to have been a fly on the wall watching it all go down.

Cpt: Oooooooooooooookay, questions #######3. Henry said that this was your first show back after 4 weeks off, what'd you do over those for weeks and what's on for the next 4 weeks?

Esmé/Sid: Well it was the holidays and stuff, plus we wrote and worked on new tunes. We've got another gig coming up and then we're going to keep writing and making new tunes after that.

Cpt: Wow, not even a year since Silver Dollar Moment and already getting the next album underway, I'm super impressed.

At this point I thought it's best to say thanks and make a hasty escape but the girls flipped that shit on me and started asking ME questions. I was seriously spinning out and sputtering out half baked sentence fragments. I think I vaguely remember punching the air and telling Sid she resembled Dragona from Submarine before I blacked out and woke up in my hotel room the next morning thinking of all the other questions I wish I'd though of at the time to ask, always leave them wanting more though, right? I didn't get to harass Henry and Alex because they were hanging out with their friends and I was already weird/rude enough.

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Ms. Boom's Review Of 2018

 

The Senior Service kicked off 2018 with a tantalizing twang, with their single ‘Slingshot’ released on the Damaged Goods label. Swiftly followed up by their equally delicious and intoxicating Hammond driven second long player King Cobra in the spring. I’ve come to expect nothing less than the best from Messrs. Day, Barker, Hartley and Howard. Indeed, the same can be said of another Barker/Hartley/Howard combo, add singer Chris Hearsey, and you get Sergeants Mess. They released their much overdue 2013 track ‘‎Couldn't I Be Yours’ back in February on Spinout DJ Lee Grimshaw’s brand new label, Spinout Nuggets. A solid debut release for an exciting new venture!

Spring was quite an exciting time gig-wise, mainly in the shape of the much anticipated Beat Bespoke Weekend headliners The Mummies. They’d split up not long after I first became a fan, in the early/mid ‘90s. So this was my first time seeing them play live. The gig was nothing short of amazing, and everything I had expected it to be – fuzzy, frantic, and filthy in your face garage punk. The only downside was the horrendously long queue at the venue due to the incredibly slow security checks (i.e. two door staff checking in 800 odd people) thus missing the support act, The Baron Four. Personally I’m not a fan of bigger events such as this, as (for me) it takes away from the whole experience of seeing a band, however, in this instance it was fun fun fun, with a fab after party, and definitely one of my favourite gigs this year.

April saw Aire Valley’s topper most masked & caped instrumental combo - The Razerbills, release their much anticipated La Tombe EP on Squirrel Records – they advise us to ‘listen in complete darkness whilst wearing your Razerbill mask’ which comes as an option with the disc. If you haven’t already got a copy, then you’d better be pretty quick (and that’s a matter of fact) as there are only a few remaining. They also played a twistin’ twang-tacular set at The Shipley Shakedown (Shipley Social Club, venue of the year!); and at The Bottom Rung’s Halloween Spooktacular. Such an inspiring band – I cannot help but adore them. Horror themed band Ms. Boom? Yes please!   

Edinburgh based garage miscreants The Nettelles released their stinging debut single ‘I’m Over You’ on Spinout Nuggets in May, and subsequently headlined at the Girls Rock School Edinburgh showcase, giving a performance with extra bite.  

Medway’s beat and garage goddess Ludella Black also released her blistering 3rd LP in May Till You Lie In Your Grave on Damaged Goods and I was sad to have missed her show at Weirdsville in July.

On to festivals. Although I didn’t make it overseas this year, I attended my very first Hipsville in Margate, The Franklin Fest in Edinburgh, Beatwave in Hastings and even made a half hour visit to the Worthing Surf Festival!  So many fantastic bands – highlights were The Beatpack and Les Bof at the Franklin, The Mirage Men, Neuvo Ramon 5, The VooDooms and The Overboards at Beatwave and the lovely Lily Zeller with Chrome Reverse at Hipsville.

It would be impossible to sum up my 2018 without mentioning The VooDooms. They’ve pretty much doom-inated social media this year, and have played all over the UK. You can read my review of their debut LP Destination Doomsville on Trashwax here, it pretty much says it all. Horror themed band? Yes please! Looking forward to more Va-Va-Doom-ing in 2019!   

Another band there has been much of a buzz about the fuzz this year (and rightly so) are San Diego’s ‘60s- crazy punkers The Night Times. Their Debut single ‘I Don’t Mind’ on Outro Records, sold out faster than a toupee in a hurricane. Luckily, I managed to acquire one from ever reliable State Records. Can’t wait to see them play next year.

Later this year I was thrilled to see Les Envahissuers play at The Bottom Rung club in Edinburgh with Les Bof! It was quite a mesmerising performance. Again, plenty of fun, fuzz and frolics ‘My Gorilla’ has been an ear worm ever since, and Nataly De Lovely certainly lived up to her name (I don’t mind admitting that I have a bit of a girl-crush!). All that, and the new singer/guitarist had to be found at the last minute, but you would never have known. Go see them live if you ever get the chance, and buy their album Garage Monkeys on Soundflat Records.   

A band to definitely watch out for next year are Spanish Duo Los Retumbes. You can read all about this perfect pairing here. They’ve just secured a support slot with garage rock legends The Morlocks and will be playing in Newcastle and Edinburgh respectively in early March. Their debut single is out now on Family Spree Recordings.  

The Sensation Seekers first LP Jerk Beat was propelled onto the unsuspected masses in November on the Back To Beat label of Norway – describing themselves as instrumentalists (which I can confirm is true) ‘it’s what you’d get if you stuck a Hammond, harp and guitar in the Hadron Collider and fired them full pelt at each other’ (thanks Mr. Ellis for the quote) – it’s a far our Hammond hootenanny for the heppest of cats.   

Other stand-out gigs this year were the legendary 5678s in Glasgow, the scary (but in a good way) Rev Beatman & Sister Nicole Izobel Garcia in Edinburgh, The Courettes & Oh! Gunquit at Weirdsville and The Galileo 7 blowing the roof off at The Fratcave in Hastings – Holy tintinnabulation! Last but my no means least, the aforementioned and Graham Day And The Gaolers at the Damaged Goods 30th Anniversary celebrations at The Lexington. Check out the Retro Man Blog for the low down on that night. The year nicely bookended by Mr. Day et al – who’d of thought it? What a great way to end 2018.  

What will 2019 bring? For me – listening to more records, more gigs, putting on my own gigs, more festivals (overseas this time yay!) – Possibly a release by a certain girl band I know AND if it’s anything like 2018, I think I may need to re-mortgage my wee bachelorette pad!

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