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Casuals Live. Post gig feature and trailer.

28 Nov

On the 10/11/2012 The Garage Highbury, one of the Mean Fiddler’s most prestigious venues, played host to the Casuals Live event. To say there was expectation in the air is an understatement. Vivid Riot Promotions and best-selling author and award-winning documentary maker Cass Pennant spent six weeks planning, promoting and organising this event, which was the very first of its kind.

A page from the gig programme

Bringing together four bands from across the UK, with four different styles, everyone at this event had one thing in common – A connection to the football casual scene and a love of music. A scene where music, clothing and diversity are always in abundance, this was the perfect combination for a gig with a difference.

As soon as the doors opened, the beer was flowing and the conversations were buzzing. The expectancy was electric and as DJ Dan Nolan span the first tunes of his DJ set, the smiles on everyone’s’ faces told a thousand stories. There were people from different football clubs, different walks of life and with very differing tastes but with thing uniting everybody– A love for culture on many different levels.

The job of opening Casuals Live went to Southend’s Plastic Youth. “Animal Style’ fizzed from the PA system and from the offset PY had people swaying to their brand of powerful literate Shoegaze. It was only a short set from PY but with the three songs they played, they certainly left their mark on the crowd. ‘Death Row’ finished a set with well-honed perfection. Job done and the event was well under way.

When it came to picking a band that lived and breathed the Casual scene, second band on the night, Reading’s Violet Class were a perfect choice. These lads live and breathe football culture. Kitted out in all the right clobber and Reading season ticket holders, they certainly looked the part but would their music be as smart as they looked?

Violet Class – Sound Check

Any questions about this bands music were answered after the band’s opener charged into life. ‘Socks on Shoes’ had hints of Ride and The La’s but also made you think, fuck, these boys have something special. The dancing at the front of the stage also put to bed any doubts that people would be standing still tonight – I only say that, because I fancied a boogie myself.

As the first chords of ‘Six Penny Step’ were strummed on the guitar the crowd broke out into rabid applause, this was a song that a lot of people were familiar with and were waiting for. Violet Class delivered the perfect rendition of the song and did themselves and their fans proud, whilst winning over of a whole host of new admirers along the way. Smart and to the point, Violet Class are going places.

Cass, gig programme, Section 60 and a Blue Collar.

As the beer carried on flowing and the DJ Dan Nolan continued to spin the tracks, every single person in the audience was now in full motion and had their dancing shoes on. I spoke to people who had travelled from as far away as Scotland and Dorset and many other places that showed how much dedication interest this event had created.

By the time The Blue Collars took to the stage, the area in front of the stage was now packed. “Alright, we’re The Blue Collars, from Stoke.” I actually thought that the buzz in the air couldn’t get anymore electric but I was very wrong. ‘This Old Town’ has had over 6000 views on You Tube and the prospect of hearing this popular song first was the best way for TBC to kick off. As soon as the song ended, applause rang out across the whole venue and people started pushing even closer to the front of the stage. The audience just wanted to feel a part of everything that was going on and The Blue Collars were more than happy to welcome them with open arms.

The Blue Collars

Melodic, angry and thought provoking are some of the words I would use to describe TBC but seriously, you have to see this band live to get the full range of emotions and intensity. They have the songs, the banter and the confidence to go very far and by the time they finished an exhilarating version of ‘Agree to Disagree’ the crowd were going crazy. Cass Pennant took to the microphone, “That was heavy duty or what?” The roar from the crowd was deafening and the sound of the whole audience singing, “Blue, Blue Collars” was cue for an encore. The Blue Collars closed their set with ‘The Dance One’ and front stage was a mass of jumping and clapping bodies. They came, they conquered. Enough said. Not bad for a support band, eh?

I actually felt sorry for Sheffield’s Section 60. I thought, how the fuck are they going to follow what has gone before them. I have been a fan of this band for some time and could tell straight away that they were here to do the business. “They have to raise the bar after The Blue Collars”, announced Cass Pennant and the boys came out in fighting mood and looked as smart as fuck.

Section 60 live.

‘Gunslingers’ the first tack in S60’s set has a bass line that gets into the very soul of you and could make a snail on valium stand to attention. The boys were back in London town and this time they are taking no prisoners.

When it comes to anthems, S60 walk with the likes of The Verve, Puressence and Oasis and they stand just as tall. Having one band that can move a crowd would have been incredible butting having four is testament of the young talent that is emerging from all over the UK and S60 stand at the forefront of this.

Section 60 and a full house.

‘The North Will Rise Again’ saw S60 bring the roof down. Anthemic, poetic and fucking ballsy, this track represents S60 perfectly. A performance this good only comes from years of practice and bundles of talent. A perfect end to a perfect night.

Cass Pennant, looked moved as he took to the microphone and announced that the whole thing had blown him away. I have to echo this sentiment. If you ask anyone who was at Casuals Live they will tell you that it was “A very special night to remember.”

Cass Pennant bringing the evening to a close.

Here is a you tube video that captures Casuals Live in all its glory.

Before I end this piece I would like to say a few thanks to people that made the night happen and also made it very special.

Thanks to our sponsors 80’s Casuals Classics and Peaceful Hooligan. Also to the following people – Jeff, Dan Nolan, Helen T, Jake, Nick S, Dave R, Mick Habeshaw Robinson, Jim Benner, Gemma, Mean Fiddler, Alex T, Vicky, Casual Way of Life, Jela, Kul Britannia, Street Sounds magazine Distant Echo, Cal, Clarkie, Dave E, Kate, all the bands on the night, and everyone who shared our event online and of course to every single one of you that came to the gig on the night. This will not be the last of this… Vivid Riot Promotions and Cass Pennant.

Vivid Riot – The Compilation FREE DOWNLOAD

10 Sep

That’s right – Yes, we know were are good people, and that’s why we are giving away our band spanking new compilation for nowt, nish, free. Just click away for 17 tracks of the finest new music.

The album is already causing a stir on-line, with listens into the thousands. 

Plain and simple, we want to highlight music that floats our boats and hopefully can sink the blues. It’s all good clean fun (Well most of it). 

To get your copy or to just have a nose/listen here’s the link –


“Just listen to the songs because at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.” – Section 60

23 Aug

We’re Section 60 a five piece guitar band from Sheffield. That’s right guitar, I suppose we could get shot these days for saying that word but fuck it, we are what we are and we ain’t going to change for fucking trends.”

“Anyway like we said, we’re Section 60 so just listen to the songs because at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.”

I agree whole heartedly with the above sentiments but Section 60 are much more than a “five piece guitar band from Sheffield”. Section 60 create big fuck off anthemic slabs of indie rock ‘n’ roll.

In this day and age, for some bands it’s hard to get anthemic songs right. Luckily, bands including Section 60, along with Puressence and Oasis do it with ease and conviction. On the flipside, you get bands like Nickleback or Bon Jovi whose sentimental bollocks makes toes curl and vomit rise. I have come to the conclusion that Section 60 are masters of the reputable anthem; put those lighters away, now.

‘Is this our day in the Sunshine’ is the first track on Section 60’s eponymous debut release and it exudes huge melodies, choruses, guitars, drums and vocals. What an opener. Think a sly wink to Oasis and a bow to The Verve and you’ll get the drift.

‘Reputation’ has a massive Puressence influence and reminds me of their track ‘Pallisades’. It’s not a rip off, just a swaggering monster of a song that again gives a nod to an influence of Section 60. A song for whacking up loud, opening a beer, and getting ready for a big night out.

Second Track on this debut release, ‘Soul Uncensored’ is the stand out track for me. Amazing vocals, big hooks  on the guitar and the chorus when measured would be the musical equivalent of lying down under a stampede of one hundred elephants. This is one big fucker of a song, beware.

‘Is this our day in the sunshine’  has some great delicate moments as well, despite being a proper lads band, they can tug the old heartstrings. The musicianship and production is spot on and the vocals are upfront and melodic. When I want an album of good vibes, good song crafting and is also a pick me up, I know which one I will be reaching for– Well done Section 60, ‘Is this our day in the Sunshine’ is an album to cherish and be very proud of.

Here’s a Vivid Riot interview with the lads from Section 60.

Hello lads, let’s start at the beginning. Who are Section 60? And how did the band form?

Addy: We got together a couple of years ago but only been a serious outfit since Summer 2011, thats when Kyle(drummer) joined the band.

Chris: Me and Addy(Rhythm Guitar) had been going to gigs together for years and been into the local music scene in Sheffield but thought it lacked a proper lads rock and roll outfit and we could not see where one was going to come from.

Smit: It always seems to be across the penines where all the best bands come form

Addy: Myself and Chris (Singer) got banned from football for allegedly being involved in football violence so I borrowed my Dad’s old guitar and decided to try to learn a few chords and make a band up. Chris was straight in on vocals even though he had never sung with a mic before not even on a karaoke!!!

Smit: I found out they had made a band up and I joined without asking, I just said I am in your band now on lead guitar and they were all like, “Yeah, sound!” Luke (Bass) lived around corner from Chris and he had been sacked from The Stoops for being a drunken idiot so we thought he’d do for us!

Addy: Kyle lives in Derbyshire and we found him running round after sheep with some drumsticks in his hands and seeing as we had lost our old drummer, we did our bit for the community and he completed the band.

Why did you pick the name Section 60?

Chris: I came up with the name because of a banning from football which lead us to forming the band. Section 60 is a stop and seach order by the police at football matches, this happened many times over the years to me & Addy. We thought it had a ring to it and a lot better than the original name which was taken from WWE Wrestiling “Velocity”

What are your musical influences?

Chris: To me it’s bands like Joy Division, The Cure and definitely Puressence, from Manchester. We’ve ripped off everybody in our practice room at some stage, I mean Noel Gallagher made a career out of it and also made no secret of it, which I think is sound. 

Addy: Manchester band Puressence,  Northern indie bands for me and obviously Beatles!!

Luke: My influences are Guitar bands, northern soul, mod, Beatles, Oasis, Verve etc 

What have the band released to date and roughly how many gigs have you played?

Smit: We’ve released our debut album ‘Is This Our Day In The Sunshine’ and a couple of singles ‘Elysium’ and ‘Diamonds’ and the response has been amazing, We have also been giving away our newer tracks through downloads and CDs at our gigs, Its about spreading the word and growing.

Kyle: I’ve only been with the band for 12 months but weve been at it all over the country, from Newcastle to London. We’ve done about 50 gigs over the past twelve months and the lads have over 200 under their belts. It’s all about putting on a good show and hard graft.

How would you describe the Section 60 sound?

Luke: Anthemic guitar tunes that get you in the mood for wherever you want to be, from chilled out on your settee to being fucked on the dance floor.

Chris: A little bit of this and a little bit of that. Give us a listen!

What has been the funniest moment of being in the band so far?

Luke: I don’t really have a stand out funny moment, but when flying back from our gigs in Berlin I was stopped by the baggage bloke because he saw something in a bag I had, it turned out I had someone else’s bag full of liquid Viagra. I don’t know the German for ‘filthy bastard’ but I think there’s a universal face for it, I got that face.

Chris: We did a gig at Hope & Anchor in Islington, We got down early and went on the piss all day ordered a load of “That” and by the time we went on stage, we were off our nuts. I forgot all the words and we played shit but had a good fucking laugh about it. A couple of us went to Barfly in Camden after and when we got back to the digs one of the lads was sat smoking a joint with a cyclist who had giving him a backy  from where he`d been at, The Bike was even in the room!

I would say that you are pretty much a “guitar band” in terms of your approach. Do you like any electronic music and if no, is there a reason for this?

Chris: Yeah I suppose we are but a tunes a tune no matter what type it is. I’m really having Rhianna, shes the bollocks and Adele is Banging. As far as electro music goes, I’m into LCD Soundsystem, the song ‘All my Friends’,  it cant get much better than that, but you also cant beat a good guitar riff.

 What was the last album that you all bought?

Luke: I can’t remember the last album I bought, but the last album I acquired was ‘Ten Silver Drops’ by Secret Machines, 6 years too late but still a class album.

Chris: Richard Hawley’s, ‘Standing At The Skys Edge’, it blew my head off because it’s such a departure from what hes done on his last fews albums, it’s the album of the year so far for me, well that and ‘Heaven’ by The Walkmen

Addy & Smit: Same as Chris, amazing album by Mr. Hawley!!!!

Kyle: Jack Savoretti – ‘Knock Knock’.

If you all had to pick one album each to take to a desert island, which one would you pick?

Kyle: Kooks – ‘Inside Out’

Smit: Stone Roses

Addy: Puressence – ‘Dont Forget To Remember’

Luke: I wouldn’t need an album, I’d take a copy of Jimmy Radcliffe, ‘Long After Tonight is All Over.’

Chris: Well Smit’s picked Stone Roses so i’d listen to his so id say Otis Reddings Greatest Hits, the mans voice blows me away, when the time comes and I start to get down and realise no fuckers coming to rescue us me and Tom Hanks can sit round the camp fire and listen to ‘These Arms of Mine’ and say, “whatever, who gives a fuck, we’ve got Otis.”

Anything else you would like to add?

 Chris: Jim Morrison once said…..”Im gonna get my kicks before the whole shit house goes up in flames” I fucking love that!

“Should I try again?” Marion

18 Apr

1994 feels like a very long time ago to me. Many gigs, lots of bands and memories now pickled and faded. Thankfully, one of my lasting memories of that particular year was hearing Macclesfield’s Marion for the first time. “Sleep” flew out of my speakers like a passionate, angry snarling dog that possessed the voice of an angel and a musical love affair began…

Marion’s first run of singles saw them reach heady heights in the press and their live performances were renowned as raucous but intimate affairs. Marion, at the time, seemed to have nothing standing in their way. Appearances on The Word and the Britpop Now TV programmes garnered rabid interest for the debut album ‘This World and Body’ and European and American tours were packed to the rafters – Believe it or not, this is where things started to change dramatically.

1997 saw Marion go through a fairly quiet period before recruiting Johnny Marr to help produce the band’s second album, ‘The Program.’ The band released a single from the album at completion and toured extensively once again.  London records did nothing to promote the album, which in fairness, does have some blistering moments but lacks the sparkle of the debut. Harding had developed a serious drug addiction and the band completely fell apart, with Harding failing to even turn up for rehearsals.

In the early days of Marion, Harding was using cocaine for its stimulant effects but ask anyone who has been there, what goes up, must come down and with cocaine it’s a fucking hard bang.  To quell the anxiety of the cocaine comedowns, Jaime’s only solace was found in heroin. The selfish nature of this opiate was the painkiller Harding needed to cope but was one that stopped him functioning enough to even dream of carrying on with music.

Harding’s addictions lead him to what is known in junkie circles as “Speedballs.” A “deadly” concoction that involves injecting heroin and crack simultaneously and this is supposed to dull the side-effects of each drug. Mixing opiates and a stimulants is like playing Russian roulette with a sub-machine gun. The effect of doing this on Harding’s body, haunts him to this day.  Jaime was now having heart problems that were confirmed by a specialist and the singer was put on intravenous antibiotics to aid his drug-riddled body.

Jaime Harding – Early days.

Marion was finished and the last I heard of them was when the press reported that Jaime was caught stealing garden ornaments to feed his addictions. At the time I felt deeply saddened that someone I had deeply admired for “that” voice and Marion’s incredible songs could be in such a state. Talent was being wasted and everything just seemed so senseless and so utterly fucking miserable, it must have been 100 times worse for Harding himself.

Around 2006, Harding set about making music again and recruited former Marion guitarist Phil Cunningham. The duo started writing songs and thought about whether or not to use the Marion moniker again. During this period Harding fell seriously ill and needed open heart surgery as a result of what the drugs had done to his body and to make matters worse, one of the new members suffered a broken neck in an accident. Despite sold out shows and a huge interest from old and new fans alike, illness was to plague Marion once again. In 2008 gigs were cancelled when Jaime contracted Pneumonia, his body succumbing to the scars of addiction once again.

2011 gave every Marion fan the news that had wanted to hear – The band had recruited another two original members and were about to play some gigs and had more new material recorded. A bigger tour was in the pipe-line and everyone was fit and well. This is where I finally got to see Marion in a live arena which I had wanted to do since the mid-90’s.

When a friend told me about the gig, I was at first excited and stunned but I also had a hint of trepidation. As much as I wanted to see the band live finally, I was scared it was going to be a shambles of a reformation. A band reforming either brings back blissful memories or it makes your toes curl up and die. Thankfully, in Marion’s case it was the former and even the new songs had something refreshing to offer.

The first song of the night ‘Fallen Through’ possessed all the passion and anger that attracted me to the band originally. “Now all my work has fallen through, should I try again?”, these lyrics never seemed so poignant and heart-wrenching. Jaime’s voice still held the passion and conviction it did almost two decades ago.

Jaime Harding – In full flight. 2012 (Photo Jen Juniper)

‘I Stopped Dancing’ which was always a favourite of mine and many others didn’t disappoint. The guitars weaved effortlessly, the bass punched through perfectly and despite being the newest member, the drummer held things together perfectly. Even my youthful energy was coming back and that doesn’t happen much these days.

The old songs came and went; leaving  feelings and thoughts of, bloody hell, that was a bit special. You could see people smiling and laughing during the gig. Oh, and the dancing at the front was as if the mosh pit was 200 degrees on the floor.

(Photo Jen Juniper)

New track ‘Hurricane’ had the band showcasing the fact that they can still write an amazing tune or two. Choppy guitars, swooning vocals and a bass line that walks about with a confidence that only being in a band like Marion can exude. Oh, and I haven’t forgotten the drummer – A powerhouse of cohesion and rigidity that left me in awe throughout the whole gig.

I have to say that new song ‘I Won’t Pretend’ did very little for me. A rockabilly guitar riff that’s a cross between The Cramps and The Birthday Party. I actually think this song will be a grower but on the night it didn’t stand out as much as the other new tracks.

I was surprised that the band only played ‘Sparkle’ from the second album. It left me wondering if the band wanted to forget about that record like some kind of embarrassing relative. ‘Sparkle’ had Jaime in fine form and you could see the whole crowd signing along – Seeing people looking so intently at the stage proved how much Marion had been missed.

(Photo Jen Juniper)

During the gig the shouts for “Sleep” were more than obvious and during the encore we finally got to hear the Marion classic. Jaime passing around a bottle of vodka to the crowd, playing the intro on his harmonica and smiling like a Chesire cat was the perfect way to end the gig. Jaime told the crowd “I love you all” and Marion left the stage.

I turned to the friend that I went to the gig with, we both smiled and I said, “That was incredible.”

To coincide with Marion releasing a new live album, I managed to have a quick chat with Jaime and here’s what he had to say.

Hi Jaime! What has been happening?

“Marion are really busy, we have a tour of the uk in April. a live album was released on April 2nd.”

How has your health been and how does it feel to be back?

“My health has got a lot better, it was always a question of when I would be ready again.  We actually reformed in 2006. All the members of Marion felt like we had so much unfinished business to take care of. we only have two records out that were released years ago. We all feel like a new group, so have wanted to play gigs and record new records for a long long time. Finally we are.”

How have the fans reacted to you re-forming?

“The response to Marion is always very intense and passionate. We are lucky that way. We have a cult fanbase of seriously great people.”

Was it the drugs that broke the band up originally and why did you re-form?

“I have suffered a lot of consequences for my drug addiction and actions. Yes, the group did break up in the nineties because I became to sick to work. Then again in 2006. The only difference was that in 2006 we all new it was just a matter of time before we would all be back together again. This was mainly from the response of the fans in 2006 and the response to the new Marion songs. I think I speak for all of the group when I say Marion is the only work we could all ever do. Life dosent mean anything to any of us without music. That’s what the fans see too, I think.”

 How do you feel about your two studio albums these days?

“I love both albums. I think they still sound great today. To me the only difference between the two of them, is that one had money and a campaign behind it (This World and Body) and the other didnt… Making the second album was so exciting for us, working closely with Johnny Marr and becoming friends. He taught all of us many many things that will be useful this time around.”

Jaime 2012 – Islington. (Photo Jen Juniper)

What is on the horizon?

“We are planning to record Marion’s third studio album this year, we have most of the songs already but want to write more too. Writing comes alot easier now.”

What have been the highlights of being in Marion?

“I think my personal highlights are being in a group that people care about. And listening back to songs we have created that then go on to blow me away. I listen to music whatever mood I’m in. All kinds… but I still feel I can say things clearer than other artists I listen to, and be better live.”

What music do you listen to these days?

“I listen to different tunes to suit my mood. I love garage music alot and live and exciting guitar groups. I love all the great singers and crooners too. Anybody thats worth a damn. I find great stuff in all kinds of music thoough, blues, country, rock ‘n’ roll, glam, punk…. The list is endless. Everything bar jazz i think.. i just find that a bit retarded not having any structure to the songs, nothing you can get hold of.”

How has the music business changed since you started?

“The music business has changed radically since I started out in Marion. The main difference is the internet I think. Now people dont have to travel hundreds of miles a night just to win three new fans. But the whole download thing is messy and wrong too. The music business never remains the same for even a day. It’s a constant shapeshifting beast.

 Which Marion songs are you most proud of?

“The Biggest Painkiller of all, The vines (full band version) and a song called Waiting for no One.”

I always thought you had cracking B-sides. Did you make a concious effort with that?

“The reason our B-sides were always good was because the record company (London) didnt give a damn about what we wrote or recorded for them. So we didnt get bothered with pressure to sound like Babybird, or whoever was shifting a few records that week. It’s hard to find people that understand an original vision. You don’t need to look too hard with today’s music to witness that.”

“Thank you for the interview and your time, Jaime.”

“Happy being sad.” Baï-Kal

16 Apr

Call me a miserable fucker but I have always liked dark music. The Cure, Joy Division, The Smiths, Bunnymen and French band Baï-Kal.”Baï-Kal?” I hear you ask – Yes, a new band that deserve the 80’s raincoat award for service to the melancholic music industry. Lock me in a room, pull the curtains and just give me Baï-Kal’s music for a pleasurable afternoon of mistanthropic contemplation. OK it’s not all doom and gloom but there’s plenty of it.

Baï-Kal have a distinctive Post Punk aesthetic and sound a little bit like The Editors and Interpol but they add a perfectly original dimension to their music. Huge Syths, rumbling bass-lines, skeletal guitar riffs and heartfelt vocals all cement a sound that whilst being dark, also has an uplifting edge to it and like The Chameleons these guys really know how to create their art.

We caught up with the band for a few words and what a friendly bunch they were. We really do get spoilt at times.

For your information Vivid Riot : Ivan (guitar) – Julien (Bass) – Bertrand (Drummer)- Rodolphe (Keyboard) – Téva (Singer + Guitar)

Right, I suppose we should start at the beginning. Tell us about the band? Where are you from, where did you meet and how do you pronounce the band’s name?

“You can pronounce it like this : Baï (like « Bye ») Kal (like « Kalachnikov » for exemple) We come from Paris and east Suburb.”

Ivan : “In the begining, there was Julien and me. We knew each other for a long time, for a good reason… we are brothers. We played music together for 17 years. Then we met our drummer Berti (Bertrand) through our friend Rodolphe who became our Keyboard player in 2011. Téva, our singer, arrived in the band in 2008, after he answered our advert in a music blog. We already had few songs, but then we were a band and then we composed faster because we quickly found a common sensibility. We understood each other very well in the music, but Baï-Kal is not simply music… It’s a band of mates. We’re now more friends than musicians who play together. We’re a true team.”

Rest of the band : “No better words… Vote Baï-Kal !”

Who are your musical influences?

Téva : “For me, some songwritters like Eliott Smith, Old idol like Neil Young, Bowie, or Indie Rock Bands like Arcade Fire, Interpol, The National, Mando Diao, The Maccabees, Ghinzu… And for the 80’s side : Joy Division, Chameleons, The Cure…”

Ivan : “I’m close to Téva for the songwritters. And everyone joins each other around many contemporary bands like Explosions in the sky, Editors, You Say Party, The Robocop Kraus. We like Post-Rock, Indie, New Wave. Some of us listen to folk singers, Jazz, hardcore, screamo, 90’s Rock… We’re more open than we look.”

What releases have you put out to date?

“Our First EP « Happy Hours »… We’re working on new songs for the next EP or album if we’re inspired enough.”

If you had to describe the band yourselves what would your description be?

Téva : “For the music, we try  to get a mix of melancoly, rage, and melodies that give back your smile… Something like that.

For the band’s life : friendship, incoherence, lots of laughs,and relationships… We’re almost brothers now (well this is not a big change for Julien and Ivan).

Julien : “A lot of fun, instinctive music, we don’t want to have borders in our music, songs are inspired by facts of life, state of mind, feelings, and their styles are going from folk ballades to modern post-punk songs, through indie alternative rock patterns.”

Bertrand : “Music + Fun + Friends + Wine + Crystal Bio = Baï-Kal. That rocks Doesn’t it ?”

Ivan : “The best mix that can exist. I never felt this in any other band.”

Rodolphe : “… And some dark dark notes between all of that. (DNA : Dark Notes Anarchy)”

What are you all into outside of music?

Téva : “I’m a film director (music vidéos, documentaries) and editor.”

Ivan : “Works in a french insurance group.”

Bertrand : “Working in a small bank & finance consulting company.”

Rod : “CEO in the robotics field.”

Julien : “IT consulting.”

Do you have any facts about the band that may surprise us?

Bertrand : “We’ve never seen Baïkal lake.” (See Wikipedia.

Julien : “I love to start gigs with my amp muted (Julien started our biggest gig in Paris like that… A great moment.”

Rodolphe : “I remember the day Julien told us in the middle of a rehearsal” :  “Hey guys, I’m not playing in a band to make Indie Rock shits”. “Find the mistake.”

Which current bands do you most admire?

Julien : “Interpol, Editors, Cut City, The Strokes, The Cribs, Crocodiles, Phoenix, Marcel et son orchestre … and many more.”

Rodolphe : “Bloc Party, Dead 60’s.”

Bertrand : “Mando Diao, the Maccabees.”

Ivan : Arcade Fire, The National

Téva : “I could add Explosions in the sky, Sigur Ros, Beirut, the last album of Apparat is amazing too, M83 or Death Cab for Cuttie. I’ve also a soft spot for Wu Lyf and a french band named Stuck in the Sound.”

Any that you hate?

Ivan : “No anger but…”

Julien : “I hate hipsters with I-macs and Ray Ban glasses.”

Téva : “I have an I-mac and Ray Ban glasses.” (Oh no, what have we started?)

If you had to choose one of your own songs to be in a film, which song and which film would it be in?

Everyone : “Back to neverland (part1).”

“Maybe in the series Friday Night Lights but Explosions in the Sky has already taken this part… So maybe in an epic movie like  Miami Vice directed by Michael Mann… But Mogwai could be in a sulk about that. Do you have their phone number?” (Actually, no I don’t but i’ll ask around!)

Lastly, is there anything else you would like to add?

Everyone : “Thank you for talking about about us! We hope your readers will like our songs… Maybe we’ll meet soon, for a gig in England!”

“There’s three lads in the corner looking for a fight.”

10 Apr

Stoke’s The Blue Collars are what I would call my perfect band. I also say the same about The Jam, so I am not being flippant about The Blue Collars. Great songs, bang on lyrics and the feeling that they will never release a bad song. With youth on there side, they blow the cobwebs off of a thousand older Indie pretenders.

The Blue Collars are a band to listen to whilst travelling through dodgy town centres with an air of menace hanging heavily in the beer-soaked air. Anthems for last orders and closing time as people spill onto the streets and the silence is broken by the incoherent anger of drunken nutters. Waking up on a Monday morning with a heavy head and thoughts of what the hell happened at the weekend, whilst all the while trying to hold down a shitty job that means less than a pint of beer – The Blue Collars know there’s more to life than pissing it all up the wall and I can say is, thank fuck these lads picked their instruments and put pen to paper.

We managed to grab a few words with the lads and caught up with there current happenings.

Hello chaps! So, who and what are The Blue Collars?

“We’re five lads from Stoke who love making music together about anything and everything, from work and nights out, to fighting and girls with half moustaches.

The current band is: Rob Morris, Simon Taylor, Jake Grocott, Kris Hassall and Rob Henton, and we have been together now for about five years and in that time we have gathered a really good local following. We have all known each other for a very long time, through school, next door neighbors and friends.”

One of the things that got me into your music was the lyrics – What influences the way you write songs in particular the lyrics?

Rob – “I get lyrics from experiences I had in life, whether they are good or bad. I often find myself people watching and I can get ideas for lyrics from doing that. I sort of observe the characters or the situations that I can find myself in, it’s a good way of getting issues or problems off your chest and to make a song out of it is a bonus!”

Which bands got you into music in the first place?

“I’d say the bands that got us into music really were bands like Joy Division, New Order and The Cure.”

Which current bands influence you the most?

“At the moment The Drums, The Maccabees and The Twang. When we first started a lot of people used to compare us to the Arctic Monkeys, but I think we have slowly grown out of that sound as we’ve gone on.”

What’s the funniest thing that has been said or has happened to the band?

“One of the funniest things that spring to mind was quite recent. We were headlining one of our local venues – the Sugarmill, and our local pub have a fancy dress night every year and this year it fell on the night of our gig. We told everyone that we weren’t doing anything for it as we were playing a gig but when we went backstage to get ready to go on we got dressed up and went out on stage to a sell-out crowd dressed as the Spice Girls! It was a bit embarrassing but it was quite funny in the end. Our drummer spent £40 on a pair of boots for it!”

Are there any bands that really get up your noses?

“The Ting Tings – I wish someone would silence her!”

What have you released up until now and have you got any gigs planned for the future?

“Up until now we haven’t released anything, we have paid for 4 demos to be recorded, which are all on YouTube and that’s about it. We don’t have another gig planned yet as one of the guitarists has moved to Middlesbrough  for Uni’ and the rest of us all have full time jobs so these days it’s hard trying to get a practice together but hopefully we’ll have a gig sorted for the summer!”

Which of your own songs are you most proud of and why?

Rob – “I would say This Old Town – from a lyrical aspect. I was in a really bad mood when I got in from my job as a laborer one day, so I went upstairs and started to write a song about the day I had. I hardly had to think about what to write, it just flew out. I also really like the music to the song, I think it’s really catchy and the lyrics went with the tune brilliantly.”

What are you into outside of music?

“Outside of the music we’re all into the same sort of stuff really, all normal lads into boozing, music, girls and football. We have 3 Stoke City fans and 2 Port Vale fans in the band so we have quite a bit of banter about that, especially how Vale are in the shit at the moment.”

Ok, I will leave the last words to you. Anything else you would like to add?

“Not much really, just keep an eye out for any gigs we have in the future, we’re hoping to start getting more gigs in Stoke! Give us an add on Facebook ,or follow us on twitter,  where we can inform you on any new tunes/gigs etc we have.”!/thebluecollars


The Skuzzies – Rock ‘n’ Roll outlaws.

15 Feb

The Skuzzies are everything I like about ‘Real’ Rock ‘n’ Roll music. They look like they have just woken up after a night of serious indulgence and they sound like a beautiful cacophonous musical cocktail of hard living street urchins.

The Skuzzies musically are a mix of MC5, The Clash, The Libertines and a darkly romantic dashing of The Only Ones. The music is brash but tuneful – the lyrics tell tales of being up on a high and down on your luck, there’s an almost Dickensian quality to this band.

Trust me, The Skuzzies are the real f**king deal.

After the release of their stunning self-titled debut album, we took the chance to have a few words with front-man Jerome Alexandre.

What a pleasant chap he is!

Hi, Jerome. So, tell us all about The Skuzzies.

“The Skuzzies first incarnation began in 2004 and lasted 6 months. We literally played two squat shows and then played the Babyshambles Astoria Riot, which Peter (Doherty) had offered us and of course when he didnt show the fans gave the venue a titanic makeover. For some reason we went down really well, which still puzzles me today, as the first line up was at musical odds with each other and after we quickly disbanded. However, I got a lot of people asking what had happened to the band and I was eager to play again, so in 2007 I hooked up with Nik Le West (Skuzzies drummer) and we made some demos with Gordon Raphael (Strokes Producer) which led to our first Ep deal. We later recruited Laura Clarke on Bass around 2008 and began playing shows like Death Disco and The Joe Strummer memorial (Where I finally got to join one of my guitar heroes Mick Jones onstage for “Police on my back” and “Bankrobber”. Come 2009 We played constantly with Babyshambles and set out on a tour with them at the end of that year. In 2010 we recorded our debut album for Easy Action records, which when released in 2011 got us great reviews in magazines like Classic Rock, ArtRocker and Vive le Rock.”

What inspires you musically?

“Wow, that is a tough one. How long do you have, haha? Johnny Thunders, Rozz Williams, Death in June, Boyd Rice, The Clash, Psychedelic Furs, John Frusciante, Rowland S Howard, Nick Cave, Gravediggaz, Sly and the Family Stone, Tricky, Marc Bolan, Lou Reed, Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Doors, Siouxsie And the Banshees, The Cure, Joy Division, Prince, Nico, Early Stones, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Gun Club, Bobby Beausoleil, Charles Manson, Cocteau Twins, Jimmy Page , Suede, and early Current 93 etc….”

And outside music what are your influences?

“I probably get more inspired by film than music when it comes to writing- I love the works of Kenneth Anger, Jean Cocteau, Alejandro Jodorowsky , David Lynch, old film noir-Hammer horror films etc. Then when it comes to painting, Salvavdor Dali, Albrecht Durer, Felicien Rops, Hyronomous Bosch, The Writings of Anton Lavey, Boyd Rice, William S Burroughs, Jim Carroll, Aliester Crowley.Even walking down the road influences me-I have felt lucky and in some cases unlucky that my life has been like a chaotic, surreal yet fun movie.”

Peter Doherty has performed with you on-stage how did that come about?

My Ex Girlfreind Heidi knew him really well-long before the Libertines existed and introduced me to Peter around 2002. We instantly became close friends, Jamming, partying, watching old movies, generally having a great time, and one night a we were in a car on our way to Mik Whitnalls old east end studio when I played him our song “On the corner”. This led to Peter performing it live with us a few times (When we opened for Babyshambles) and eventually led to us recording it at his country house for our debut album.”On the Corner” is a testament to all the wicked souls of Deptford who would wait on a turning of Tanners Hill, for a fix, a piece of ass , a skirmish, collecting debts, executions you name it,  it has all happened. Peter is one of the few people who can make me smile and laugh even when I’m down. He’s a kind soul and I feel incredibly priviledged to be friends with someone who’s been such a bright spark and catalyst culturally and musically, he’s helped The Skuzzies out so much and weve shared wonderful moments.”

What’s the funniest thing someone has said about the band?

“Hmm, there’s a few. Around the time the album came out Nik and I were really amazed at how great the reviews were, pratically everyone had wonderful things to say about it, including writers like Pete Makowski(Who has interviewed and reviewed some of my favourite artists) he gave the album a rave review in Classic Rock. Anyway, of course someone had to hate it and it was this nerdy Middle Class blogger who started off by saying we were a sexist band , I guess she didnt realise that our bassist was female, and secondly she made out that yours truly was trying to imitate (Ash vocalist) Tim Wheeler -which is hilarious considering I dont even own one single of theirs and that I couldn’t even name you an Ash song. Once our P.r Company informed us that we had been asked to do an interview with a DJ for a British Army radio station, it was great to think that we could provide the troops with entertainment and during the show the DJ told us that “Dissatisfied” was getting requested a lot by the troops in Iraq. Anyway, I was really proud of this so come a few weeks later we were playing the now extinct Heroes Bar in Camden, and I turned to the audience and yelled ” It really gets me off that the troops in Iraq are polishing their guns and marching boldy to war to this song-this one’s called “Dissatisfied!”, the audience were really great and it was a fab show. After the show I was walking to the backstage area when all of a sudden a really angry woman came right up to my face and said “My son lost his leg in war- do you think thats right? what you said was bang out of order!”,  she was extremely drunk and I tried to let her know that the song was for people like her son but to no avail… she and her boyfriend even tried to attack me several times! Eventually they were kicked out by security, yet even after the show as we were saying goodbye and signing albums the woman appeared again and began to shout “This band are evil! they promote violence!” – the whole thing was mega surreal!”

What is on the Horizon for the band?

“We’re taking a hiatus at the moment. I’ve written another bunch of new songs for the band – it’s just about finding the right time, besides we all need to recharge our batteries, we’ve been through a lot and at the moment there are other projects I’m doing. I’m playing in a band called “Deadcuts” which features Mark Keds (Sensless Things/Jolt), Joni Belaruski (The Great Malarky) and Mark Mcarthy (Wonder Stuff/R.D.F). I’m also doing a spoken word/experimental project with Nina Antonia and Miro Snedjir (Death in June/Spitting at pigeons) which explores another side of my personality that I’ve been dying to get out under the banner of “A Warning to the curious”. I’ve also had the great fortune to be in a movie by Richard Wolstencroft (who runs the Melbourne underground film festival) and has produced films like “Pearls before swine”, “Joe blow” and “The Beautiful and Damned”. The Film is entitled “The Second Coming” (based on the W.B Yeats poem). I feature in the English section and alongside Nina Antonia and Peter Doherty.”

Which bands currently do you rate?

“Crybaby Special and the Monsters. I met them at a few of our shows. The Cyndies who are an Italian electronic group who remind me a little of Psychic Tv – I’m going to be working with them next month on a single. To be honest, I’m quite lazy, I dont seek out new bands to listen to as I’m way to busy with what im doing.”

And any you hate?

“You would need eternity to list my contempt for the bands I hate- it seems to me they all have one characteristic in common and that is they belong to the school of, “Anyone can do it”… Anyone can’t do it!”

What would be your three desert Island discs?

“Hmm, one would have to be Death in June and Boyd Rice’s “Alarm Agents”, Johnny Thunder’s “So Alone” album and you know what? It’s just to hard to say! I couldnt possibly choose, I have a wide range of tastes for a wide range of mood swings.

Thanks to Jerome for doing the interview.

You can see and hear more about The Skuzzies at the links below.”