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Official UK singles chart to include streamed data

 
By on Tuesday, 24th June 2014 at 11:00 am
 

Audio streams from the likes of Spotify, Deezer and Napster will count towards the Official Chart rankings from July 2014, it has been revealed.

Posting on their official Web site, the Official Charts Company confirmed that the move, which is supported by the UK music industry, “follows an explosion in streaming services with the total number of weekly audio streams selected by music fans growing from 100 million a week in January, 2013 to 200 million a week in January, 2014”. The figure is currently at 260 million.

The full list of audio streaming services that will count towards the Official Chart are:
– Spotify
– Deezer
– Napster
– O2 Tracks
– Xbox Music
– Sony’s Music Unlimited
– rara (powered by Omnifone)

The Official Charts Company added that “both paid and ad-funded” streaming services would count and “to reflect the difference in weight between streaming and purchasing, 100 streams will count as equivalent to 1 single (download or physical single) in the chart compilation process”. Furthermore, a track must be listened to for at least 30 seconds for it to register and plays will be capped at 10 plays per day. The move comes 10 years after sales of digital downloads were first added to the Official Chart.

Speaking about the announcement, Bastille‘s Dan Smith said, “Hearing ‘Pompeii’ has had over 26 million streams is amazing and completely weird and we’re really, really happy. I think streaming going into the chart is definitely a good thing. I think for the charts to be fair, it has to reflect how people digest music.”

The move has been greeted by mixed views from chart fanatics. While some believe that adding streams into the chart doesn’t truly reflect what people are listening to, others believe it’s a sign of the times and that it embraces the new way in which people listen to music.

A side-by-side comparison of both the Official UK Charts, in its current form, and the Official Streaming Chart shows that there are noticeable differences between what people are streaming and what they’re buying.

#

Streaming Chart
(as of June 21st)

Official Chart
(as of June 22nd)

1

Mr Probz – ‘Waves (Robin Schulz Remix)’
(8 weeks in chart)

Ella Henderson – ‘Ghost’
(2 weeks in chart)

2

 Sam Smith – ‘Stay With Me’
(4 weeks in chart)

 5 Seconds of Summer – ‘Don’t Stop’
(new entry)

3

 John Legend – ‘All Of Me’
(17 weeks in chart)

Ed Sheeran – ‘Sing’
(3 weeks in chart)

4

Ed Sheeran – ‘Sing’
(2 weeks in chart)

George Ezra – ‘Budapest’
(new entry)

5

Calvin Harris – ‘Summer’
(7 weeks in chart)

Sam Smith – ‘Stay With Me’
(5 weeks in chart)

Based on these stats, it’s clear that people are streaming music that has been around in the charts for longer, but the way in which the current chart system works doesn’t reflect that (as you can listen to a purchased track as many times as you like, but it will only count towards the sales figures once).

As a result of the upcoming merge, we could be seeing tracks dominating the Official UK Top 40 for longer than ever before. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it could mean that new tracks won’t get the same exposure. Whether this is the case, only time will tell. Stay tuned.

The first Official Singles Chart Top 40 to incorporate streams will be unveiled from 4-7 PM on Sunday, the 6th of July on BBC Radio 1, with the full Top 100 published on OfficialCharts.com at 7 PM that evening.

 

Inaugural Independent Venue Week to take place in January and February 2014

 
By on Friday, 29th November 2013 at 11:00 am
 

The music business is a hard one. In recent years, we’ve seen the decline of record sales and record shops closing as an unfortunate consequence of music piracy. This has hurt bands and the industry as a whole. So it’s all the more important that we support some of the most important unsung heroes of music: independent music venues.

These places where we go to worship our musical heroes might not physically be as massive as those larger, sponsor-backed venues (you know which ones I’m talking about) but independently-owned, small- and medium-sized venues far exceed those behemoths in heart. They act as meeting places for culture, where the local community can come together and watch up and coming artists just starting out, and gigs there often serve as significant milestones for musicians and fans alike. But just like other sectors of the music industry, these smaller places to see music are struggling in this economy, and we are losing some of the most historic, important places of our musical heritage. So it’s high time we gave independent music venues the credit they deserve.

The inaugural 6-day event Independent Venue Week 2014, already receiving support from PRS and BBC Introducing, will boast a blinding assortment of amazing shows at 18 independent venues across Britain. Drowned in Sound, Moshi Moshi Records, Domino Records, The Musicians Union and UK Music have already pledged their involvement in the event as well. Jo Dipple of UK Music said of Independent Music Week:

Our great musical heritage is what defines us as a country and UK Music is fully committed to supporting venues large and small. Live music is the backbone of this country; from the Cavern Club to the Leadmill we have some of the most interesting venues in the world and it’s great to see them among those being celebrated as part of Independent Venue Week.

Venues confirmed for the 6-day event include Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach in Wales (celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013), Belfast Oh Yeah Centre in Northern Ireland, Glasgow King Tut’s in Scotland, Bristol Louisiana, Guildford Boileroom, Leeds Library, Liverpool Zanzibar, London Putney Half Moon pub, Manchester Soup Kitchen, Newcastle Cluny, Norwich Art Centre, Oxford Jericho, Plymouth Tiki Bar, Stoke Sugarmill (celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013), Southampton Joiners (celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2013), Sheffield Leadmill, Tunbridge Wells Forum (celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013) and York Fibbers. Drummer Philip Selway of Radiohead fondly recalls The Jericho’s importance in their band’s history:

Small venues are the lifeblood of British music. When you start out as a band, you aspire to playing in your local venue and feel a sense of achievement when you get a gig there. In Oxford, we grew up wanting to play at The Jericho Tavern, and were lucky enough to be signed after one of our shows there.

We’ve been lucky enough to have covered shows at many of these places, and we’re chuffed they’ll be participating in Independent Venue Week in 2014. Specific dates, locations and line-ups will be announced in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. But we’re already excited about this new event to celebrate our favourite places to see live bands.

 

This is the Last Time? – A Retrospective on Keane

 
By on Friday, 25th October 2013 at 5:00 pm
 

Last Sunday, through MTV, Gigwise, NME and other media channels, came the news that after 16 years of being together, Keane had decided to call it a day. I feel pretty bad now, having slagged off their latest single here on TGTF and having Steve Lamacq read out during Roundtable this Tweet in which I called it “lacklustre”. Kidding aside, maybe I had foreseen this media firestorm that would take place in 2 weeks’ time. We’ve been told that frontman Tom Chaplin wants to embark on a solo career, and principal band songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley plans to collaborate on songwriting with today’s pop stars, having previously worked with No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani on ‘The Great Escape’ song ‘Early Winter’ and Kylie Minogue on ‘Everything is Beautiful’ from her 2010 album ‘Aphrodite’. Confusingly, a couple days later, Chaplin himself tried to explain that their plans were instead to go on temporary hiatus while band members worked on their own projects. This left me wondering, are there plans to “let’s go out while we’re on top”? This also has made me ponder, artistically, has Keane’s journey run its course?

Sixteen years does seem like a very long time to be together, and in Keane’s case, they haven’t terribly prolific – besides a couple of EPs, the band only put out four full-length albums. But this is right in line with the band that would prove to be their rivals for throughout their career. I am, of course, talking about Coldplay, the other massive English stadium piano rock band. This seems to not be as common knowledge as I thought, but it should be: when Keane’s principal songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley was still at University College of London, he was approached in 1997 by then unknown musician Chris Martin, who asked him to join his new band. Had Rice-Oxley taken him up on the offer, there might never have been a Keane at all. Imagine how different the musical landscape today would be if he’d agreed. Thankfully, he said no, saying he wanted to stay with his then band The Lotus Eaters and in a flurry of subsequent action, Tom Chaplin was drafted to come in as lead vocalist. Thus Keane was born.

As they are for most fledgling bands, the early days for Keane were hard. Founding member Dominic Scott left in 2001, disheartened by the band’s lack of progress. Had it not been for Fierce Panda Records head honcho Simon Williams, who just happened to see the band perform in London the following year, Keane might not have gone anywhere. Williams, having seen promise in Coldplay several years prior, agreed to put out their first commercial single, ‘Everybody’s Changing’, which then caught the ears of one Steve Lamacq, who at the time was still on Radio1. When Keane started getting popular here in America, I avoided them like the plague. What a snooze! ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ seemed to be on the radio every single time I switched it on, and it drove me crazy. ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ got on my nerves. Who is that guy singing? Man, that delivery’s annoying.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oextk-If8HQ[/youtube]

I later ate my words when I fell in love with Chaplin’s voice and Rice-Oxley’s songwriting. And this happened with third album ‘Perfect Symmetry’, which would be the album that made me want to even go near them. Making synthesisers and guitars more prominent in their sound caught my eyes and ears: was this really the same Keane that was putting out that dirge ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ and that annoyance ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ that I couldn’t stand? And yet, surprisingly, it was. It was from there that I went backwards in time, to come to know and love ‘Hopes and Fears’ (and ‘Under the Iron Sea’ to a much lesser extent) and Keane became an important part of my life.

When my heart got broken for the second time, Chaplin sang to me, “this is the last time, the last time I will show my face / one last tender lie, and then I’m out of this place”, and I felt he knew my pain. Like many of the bands I like, I think some of their lyrics have been horribly misunderstood. I interpret ‘This is the Last Time’ as a cry for help from someone contemplating suicide. Some people seem to think that because Keane are a mainstream band, that means their lyrics must be throwaway and aren’t anything important. No. You just haven’t been looking hard enough, people. I know for me and many Keane fans out there, the band and their songs have been there for us when we needed them. We are the people who took to social media immediately on Sunday morning and were taking this break-up news the hardest.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u86VdOc3asA[/youtube]

While in shock from hearing the news Keane were splitting up, I joked on Twitter, why couldn’t it have been Coldplay instead? Don’t ask me why, but except for ‘The Scientist’, Martin’s words don’t do a thing for me. For the better part of the last 2 decades, and rather unfairly in my opinion, Keane and Coldplay have been lumped together because they share that one major, distinguishing characteristic: using a piano as the lead instrument in their songs. It’s my understanding that the two bands are of similar stature in the UK when it comes to fan and mainstream popularity, where their label of stadium piano rock is most appropriate.

Inexplicably, Coldplay is far and away much more massive than Keane is here in America. I really don’t really get it. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Tom Chaplin’s voice can run circles around Chris Martin’s, with the ability to transform chameleon-like from gorgeously tender, to hauntingly emotional, to sweepingly grand in a chorus all in the same song. The existential musings on the digital world offered up in third album title track ‘Perfect Symmetry’ couldn’t have been written by anyone else but Tim Rice-Oxley. For me, Keane was always the complete package: beautifully sung vocals by Chaplin, in the backdrop of Rice-Oxley’s amazing songwriting, with perfectly matched drums and percussion from Richard Hughes and later, guitars from touring band member and Rice-Oxley’s Mt. Desolation compadre Jesse Quin.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRLv6zvyE48[/youtube]

But Keane was not without some career stumbles. The ‘Night Train’ EP of 2010 saw the band try to spread their wings even further beyond their unusual MOR style. Much credit needs to be given for them trying to branch out into rap, collaborating with Somali-Canadian rapper K’Naan on single ‘Stop for a Minute’, the video of which had me spellbound as I watched it off a bar’s television on a street in Copenhagen, and even crossing cultural borders in ‘Ishin Denshin’, working with Japanese rapper Tigarah in what ended up being an embarrassing experiment. Latest album ‘Strangeland’ disappointed critics, only receiving average reviews; even I thought it was an uneven effort, featuring great singles but containing mostly with filler. Still, fans ate it up and bought it in droves. And as always, the same fans saw them in huge numbers on tour.

The last time (no pun intended) I saw them gig was on the Strangeland North American tour of 2012. They sounded brilliant as always. Ever the showman, Chaplin and his charisma grabbed hold quickly to the audience’s attention and never let go of the entire hour and a half they played. Even if their last two studio albums were less than stellar and for some reason they don’t even return to the stage as a live band, the experience of seeing them will always be remembered as something very special. I will always treasure being mere feet away from Keane, down the front for an intimate appearance at Cedar Street Courtyard during my first SXSW in 2012. Never would I imagine a year and a half later, we’d be talking about their potential demise. Whatever happens, guys, we will be missing you.

 

A Little Reminder That I’ll Never Forget: The Legacy of Lostprophets

 
By on Tuesday, 8th October 2013 at 11:00 am
 

In the past 6 months, I’ve lost two cornerstones of my teenage identity. No I haven’t lost my virginity aged 21, nor have I misplaced my GCSE certificates. I’ve lost Lostprophets and My Chemical Romance. Two bands that I directly relate to my discovery of rock music – gone under two sets of completely incomparable circumstances, but gone nonetheless and hardly likely to be doing any reunion tours, ala Fall Out Boy anytime soon. So how did my love affair with the two juggernauts of emo start?

I still remember innocently flicking onto Kerrang! on Sky at my parents’ house in Guernsey when I was 14 years old, and the video to ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ was in full flow, Gerard Way leading his macabre marching band. However, at that time I was none the wiser to who it was, but I became utterly obsessed with it. I was relatively unfamiliar with popular music at that time, other than what I listened to on the island’s commercial radio station Island FM as my Mum drove me to school. I was subjected to an eclectic mix of all that was popular around the 1970ss mixed with about every Robbie Williams track ever recorded, played at least once every hour. And Dido. But I fucking loved Dido. (Actually, I still do.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDWgsQhbaqU[/youtube]

So as I played ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ constantly on the home computer, I got deeply engrossed in the lyrics and the music and suddenly I decided I was rock and roll. I was cool, I got to hang out with the kids with long hair and listen to music that was draped in darkness. I allowed myself to grow an identity that was defined by music that other people called ‘emo’ and ‘goth’ and I bloody loved it. It was a sense of identity that I, along with any teenager at that point in their life, yearned for which My Chemical Romance and later Lostprophets fuelled.

Alongside my obsession with ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’, I discovered Lostprophets’ ‘Liberation Transmission’, another album that I still remember around this massive juncture in my life. Okay, so I wasn’t standing on a rooftop screaming my heart out, however much this is painting me to be a dreadfully folorn figure at just 14. In fact, life was pretty cosy, but if it helps to visualise me as a deeply depressed loner in the playground than feel free. Although no visualising me with glasses. In their music I found an identity, which as I mentioned set me apart from the Radio 1/Island FM dogma. I wanted to use that identity so that girls would think I was a bit quirky, a bit edgy, not just that spotty curly-haired gimp that was pretty good at maths.

However, there was this whole stigma sticking around these bands, MCR especially. That they were the problem behind suicide cults, a stigma that I as a news-blind 14-year old was completely unaware of. Was I interested in that side of the story? Was I? Fuck. I just wanted to at least try and be cool and this music was my stepping board, my way of bizarrely expressing MY individualism through such uber-creative mediums as MySpace and Bebo. (Warning: do not search for my MySpace or Bebo page, they may cause cringe-induced comas.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z5FWlUN1go[/youtube]

Now, in 2013, as both of these bands have packed up their eye-liner, binned the horrendously tight skinny–jeans/marching band gear (delete as appropriate) and done away with the lyrics about death and slashed wrists, there’s a juncture for any fan of this age. I’m sure I’m not the only one who stumbled upon the videos to ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’, ‘Rooftops’, etc. and now feels rather upset that undeniably a bit of their childhood which defined them now as adults has disappeared, probably forever.

With Lostprophets, it is walking on uneasy grounds. Grounds which as a news-focused journalist in my day job I am extremely legally terrified of touching – so I won’t, I’ll instead focus on the musical legacy left by the Pontypridd rockers. It is a legacy somewhat tainted by the relative inadequacy of their most recent two records, ‘The Betrayed’ and ‘Weapons’. Two pieces of work that in comparison to the band’s earlier efforts really just stunk of a yearning to make another ‘Liberation Transmission’, or even another ‘Start Something’, but which tragically fell short. In their pre-2007 career, Lostprophets were part of a small group which defined the very genre that they were part of. Creating experimental rhythms and beats, slapping it on top of a chugging bass line with a chorus catchier than the flu – Songs like ‘Burn Burn’, ‘Rooftops’ and ‘Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja’ were utterly fantastic rock songs and have arguably inspired a generation of new bands to follow suit.

To name but a few, their countrymen The Blackout, pop-rockers You Me at Six and more, in fact you’ll struggle to find a band of that ilk who wouldn’t cite Lostprophets as one of the reasons that they donned the skinnies and started jumping up and down with their legs together whilst screaming at the top of their voice. It’s a generation of bands who now live on past the legacy that Lostprophets, in my opinion, set.

Over the past few years the band may have fallen flat, but the generations of teenagers and musicians which they inspired live on, through the music. They’re a band who sung about making their mark, who sung about how they’ve always tried. Well, they did leave a legacy, one which I hope people will remember, above the controversy no matter what happens.

They’re gone, but not forgotten. They really did ‘Start Something’.

 

Mercury Prize Shortlist 2013: Is It Even Relevant Anymore?

 
By on Thursday, 12th September 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That time of year has crept up on us again. Yesterday evening, the nominees for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2013 Albums of the Year were revealed in London. Maybe this is the direction the Mercury Prize nominations will be going in from here on out, but it’s rather startling how mainstream this year’s shortlist is. In past years, there was always one or two curveballs thrown in the mix of straight-forward, famous artists and well thought of indie. Not so much in 2013…which leaves me wondering if this competition is even worth my time anymore in the years going forward.

Let’s examine the biggest names first. The now Josh Homme-influenced Arctic Monkeys just got in under the wire, with their new album ‘AM’ literally just made it to store shelves this past Monday. They don’t need any help selling records. (Technically, they also fall under the next category I will examine, but for the sake of argument, it’s this album people are focusing on, not one 7 years ago…which won the gong that year.) Neither does legendary artist David Bowie; his March 2013 surprise release ‘The Next Day’ also makes an appearance on the shortlist.

Then there are the repeat ‘offenders’. Dubstep wonder boy James Blake, whose self-titled debut album in 2011 garnered a Mercury nod back then, is yet another safe and predictable choice. Given their headline slot at Latitude Festival this year and continually rising star, Foals‘ nomination for ‘Holy Fire’ (review here) is not such a shock. But they were nominated for and lost in 2010 for ‘Total Life Forever’. I’m a great fan of Conor J. O’Brien’s songwriting, but this year’s ‘{Awayland}’ pales in comparison to its predecessor, Villagers‘ 2010 opus ‘Becoming a Jackal’.

While he was 1/2 of the nominated collaboration with King Creosote in 2011’s ‘Diamond Mine’, Jon Hopkins makes another appearance, this time by himself for ‘Immunity’. There is also no escaping the fact that the selection of Laura Marling‘s ‘Once I Was an Eagle’ (review here) comes across as particularly lazy: the woman’s been nominated two times already prior to this. I’m all for equality when it comes to music awards and it’s great that this year there are two female singer/songwriters on the shortlist, but surely there has got to be another woman – and in the folk genre, certainly – whose album would have been up to snuff to the Mercury voters instead of giving Marling another nomination.

Next, let’s look at the acts that are toeing the line between their indie background and their big chance at the mainstream. Having enjoyed a successful 2012 with sold out shows and his debut album selling very well, Noel Gallagher‘s sneery young protege Jake Bugg makes a not so surprising appearance on the shortlist. Popular Brum soul singer and #4 on the BBC Sound of 2013 list Laura Mvula also receives a Mercury nod this year for ‘Sing to the Moon’. Helps quite a bit that both of them are on majors (Mercury and RCA, respectively) and therefore had major label muscle to help along the promotion of their debut albums.

If there is one saving grace of this year’s shortlist, it was that instead of a truly oddball experimental jazz album getting a nomination, dance is for once decently represented with not one but two good albums: Disclosure‘s delicious brand of house in the form of ‘Settle’ and Rudimental‘s drum and bass-rich ‘Home’. But wait a minute. They’re on majors too, Island and Warner. Hmm… The one oddball nominee, if they can be called that, are post-punk girl group Savages. They might not be a household name – yet – and they’re on an indie label (Beggar Group’s Matador) but they were already firmly in our brains from their BBC Sound of 2013 longlist nomination. Yawn.

This all begs the question, just how relevant is the Mercury Prize in 2013? Also, was it ever relevant? And when did it stop being so? While it has never been a dirty little secret but rather an obvious known fact that major label backing helps with funding, which leads to promotion and visibility opportunities and therefore record sales, this is probably the year more than any other in the past in which the expensive fee to enter the Mercury competition comes through loud and clear as the reason why this year’s list is sadly predictable. In a piece by the Guardian’s Michael Hann, Kerrang! editor James McMahon said the egregious lack of metal on the shortlist year after year is a major oversight: “The thing is, within the rock music industry there’s a bit of debate about how bothered people are with an award like the Mercury. The other year we were pushing the idea of Bring Me the Horizon being nominated as an innovative, exciting British rock band who want to be seen out in the world – but they didn’t enter. If the rock industry doesn’t have any belief in its relevance, what can the Mercuries do? But if it were genuinely the 12 best records of the year, it would be blinkered to ignore metal.”

Hann’s article goes on to point out that Leeds buzz band Hookworms chose not to enter either, their frontman MJ explaining, “The nondescript thousands in marketing fees and physical product is even more shameful [than the entry fee]”. Even ubiquitous rock journalist Pete Paphides took to social media yesterday to bemoan the situation: “It’d be good to have a music prize where part of the sponsorship meant bands not having to pay hundreds of £s to be eligible for contention.” Quite right. There is no one obvious solution to “fixing” the Mercury Prize because let’s face it, like all award shows, it’s a business, and businesses exist to make money. But it’s a shame that what the Mercury Prize used to be known for – bringing attention to lesser known acts that otherwise might not get their time in the limelight – seems to have been all but been entirely forgotten.

 

Is Breaking Up Your Band Hard to Do? Three Case Studies from Summer 2013

 
By on Thursday, 1st August 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Whether it has been caused by the economic climate, disillusionment in the goal of making it big or just band members getting tetchy with each other, there is no denying that the sheer number of bands that have been breaking up recently has been staggering. It’s been especially hard to swallow when I see the band that’s disbanding is one of the kind of indie bands we tend to champion here TGTF and we’ve supported over the years.

Just in the last 10 days we’ve been given the sobering notice that Stockton-on-Tees’ Chapman Family, LA band The Henry Clay People and The Good Natured, the electro three-piece fronted by Sarah McIntosh, have all folded. And don’t go blaming the recent summer heat wave causing delirium on this phenomenon. These bands, along with several others that disbanded since I took over as Editor-in-Chief of TGTF in summer 2010, made me wonder what is it that is going so wrong in the music industry for these terrible things to happen.

Perhaps it is naiveté having never actually been in a band. But I would think the actual breaking up of an entity, a friendship unit that means so much to you, something you’ve put all your blood, sweat and tears into for years and years, would be psychologically hurtful. And we’re not even talking about the emotional toll the actual breakup has on the fans of the band. After reading the tearful reactions of several of my mates on social media about the bands I have mentioned, I thought I would take a closer look at each of those bands to try and make sense of it all.

The Chapman Family (pictured at top)

I’m going to start with the recent band break-up that has been the most difficult to fathom for me. After many friends’ urgings and Martin’s glowing account of them live in Newcastle I finally got to see the Chapman Family at Leaf Cafe in Liverpool during the second night of this year’s Sound City. What a strange place to see a gig; as I snapped away on my camera, I was stood near the stage with no-one around me and loads of people behind me sat at cafe tables. But the charisma of frontman Kingsley Chapman and the overall tightness of the band’s sound left me nearly speechless. Just brilliant.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3gqTtzL4cg[/youtube]

Earlier this month, Kingsley had pimped out his keyboard stand for their Stockton Weekender performance, festooning the legs with what I considered gorgeous fake flowers from a pound shop. It didn’t occur to me until after they’d announced their breakup that maybe the colours chosen – mostly ghostly, funereal white – might have been a sign. I’ve talked to several friends of mine involved in the business and we’ve come to the agreement that the band had soldiered on from 2006 to 2013 – 7 years, which is a really long time in band years these days – and maybe they’d just gotten to the point where the dream had died and they had become disenchanted by not being able to go further, to play for bigger crowds, to go beyond the confines they’d already stretched. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure why they broke up, but I’m sad nevertheless.

To our fans and friends,

We’re really sorry to announce that The Chapman Family is coming to an end.

The gig at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees this Friday night will be our last.

We would like to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for the support you’ve given us over the years since our very first gig at the Kubar in 2006 to the very moment you’re reading this now. You’re all amazing and it’s been an honour and a pleasure to play for you. You’ve given us memories that we will treasure forever and we hope in some small way that the records we’ve made for you – from the pink DIY effort of “You Are Not Me” in 2007 to the purple vinyl of “This One’s For Love” last month via the album “Burn Your Town” and the EP “Cruel Britannia” – will provide you with pleasurable diversions throughout your lives for years to come.

We were the first completely unsigned band to feature on an NME tour as well as top the MySpace charts on MTV. By hook or crook we managed to play to audiences in Japan, America, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria as well as more towns and cities than we can possibly remember in the UK. We’d like to thank everyone that we’ve ever worked with, every promoter that’s ever put us on, every soundman that has asked us to turn up and not down, every blog that has interviewed us, every DJ that’s played our songs, every magazine or newspaper that’s taken an interest and every one of you who’s ever had their heads turned slightly or their eardrums blown by a bunch of Teessiders trying their very best to be the most exciting rock band they can possibly be.

You have given us the most exciting years of our lives.

WE LOVE YOU ALL

The Good Natured

The talent of Sarah McIntosh, I’m happy to say, was something I can credit TGTF (in its form before I joined up with the site) for getting me keen on. From her humble beginnings as an amateur synth player, rescuing a vintage(y) Casio from her gran’s rubbish heap prior to 2008 and then setting herself the goal of, as her PR described it, “to document ‘the make outs, break ups, make outs and make ups’” of life. There was something truly amazing how professional her music as The Good Natured sounded even in 2009 before she’d been signed; listen to ‘Warriors’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io4x7OqbmwE[/youtube]

Then in early 2011 came the news that she’d been signed to Parlophone, aka the branch of EMI that is most famous for producing the Beatles, and with brother Hamish on bass and mate George Hinton on drums, it seemed that McIntosh has been rewarded for her innovation and all her previous hard work. The first single they released with their new label behind them was ‘Skeleton’, which admittedly caused me some shock, as it was obvious Parlophone was trying to sex up Sarah’s image in the video, which was as far from sexual as possible to begin with. At least she kept her clothes on for the video; I had this image of her putting her foot down in a meeting and saying, “I’m not taking my clothes off. I’m not Britney Spears!”

Then came the news last Thursday that the band were calling it quits because they were unable to retrieve the master tapes to their debut album from their label. (If this sounds all too familiar, it’s because it happened in 2010 to a band us here at TGTF love, Little Comets. Frontman Robert Coles explained what happened in this interview with me in early 2011. We are so pleased they went on and did well for themselves without losing their artistic credibility or integrity.) I guess folding was the only reasonable option left on the table for the Good Natured. To add insult to injury, the band also posted a photo of a sign announcing American popster Katy Perry‘s new album to be released in October, called ‘Prism’, which incidentally was going to be the name of the Good Natured’s debut album. While it’s the end of the road for this incarnation of the band, they Tweeted on Monday that they expected to come out with new music in the future and “Life has a really funny way of telling you everything happens for a reason.” Which is an incredibly adult outlook. I’m not sure I would have had the same feelings; I probably would have been throwing a tantrum. Read the full letter to fans from 25 July from the Good Natured below.

Hello to all you amazing people. Sorry we’ve been so quiet in the TGN camp lately. We’ve had a lot going on and we didn’t want to update you until we had our facts straight. We didn’t want to give you information that wasn’t true when we didn’t understand the situation ourselves. A few months ago we were dropped from our record label. Our album has been shelved. Over this time we have been trying to get our masters back so that we can release Prism, however, it has not been possible.

To say we are devastated is an understatement. Believe us when we say we have tried everything possible to get our album to you. Sometimes life gives you lemons and you gotta make lemonade. When one door closes another opens.
You have to pick yourself up, be bigger, be stronger. For The Good Natured it is the end of the road, but it’s safe to say there is something better around the corner.

Our last gig will be at Secret Garden Party in Eddy Temple Morris Temple Of Boom. We’d love it if you came down to celebrate what fun we have had. We love every single one of you and thank you for your support along the way. It means everything to us. We will see you soon. All our love as always, Sarah, Hamish and George.

The Henry Clay People

The first gig I ever covered as a music blogger was on the 12th of March 2009, a headline show by the Airborne Toxic Event at DC’s Black Cat and featuring their good friends the Henry Clay People as support. Last Wednesday, the Henry Clay People left the following message on their Facebook:

Hello friendos-

The Henry Clays play August 17th at Echo Park Rising music fest. It’s free. We’ll be playing in the early evening…

In the past, we have been sort of doomsdayish with our “this could be it for the band” insinuations. Yet here we are.

This one may be different. This may actually be “it” for the following exciting reasons:

Eric is now a proud papa bear and one test away from being a legit architect.
Andy is going back to school.
Joey is moving to the east coast to go back to school.
Harris is currently touring the country/world with other rock and roll bands.
Noah has a rad new band called The Pretty Flowers.

If the August 17th show sucks, then we will probably have to do another to redeem ourselves, but it might not be until 2020: Thirty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives.

It’s been fun. We miss you. We miss playing. It’s kinda sad and happy at same time. Let’s make this one special.

Love,

The Henry Clay People

Of all the breakups in this feature, this one was the least bittersweet because they offered a final show for their fans and the explanation given for the end of the band was clear cut. Based on the letter above, we can surmise that each of their band members came to the conclusion that this band thing was over and it was high time to be a Grown-Up, however hard (or easy) coming to that realisation may have been.

While having families, children and the scariest thing to musicians, the respectable job, doesn’t always sound the death knell for a rock band, it’s really the easiest and least painful reason for breaking up a band because it’s not entirely unexpected. While Henry Clay People fans may not be quickly consoled by the harsh reality of Real Life, the news is however well tempered now that we know that every single person in the band is going forward, doing his own thing and they’re entirely okay with it.

I mentioned the economy at the start of this piece. There is no denying that making enough money as a musician in order to survive without another source of income has become more and more difficult, thanks to music piracy and the online streaming services like the one that Thom Yorke has recently and famously hit out at giving out paltry payouts to bands. If you don’t believe me, check out the graphs posted in this Atlantic article. The American half of TGTF’s writership often get into long discussions about how touring (and to a lesser extent, selling merch at the shows) is the only real way musicians can survive if they’re not being backed by a major label.

If the economy is in any part, whether small or large, affecting the number and increased frequency of bands breaking up, then unfortunately I see this as a sort of unintended natural selection process in the current music climate and it will continue. It’s not a trend I like seeing and if you agree with me, go out there and give your support to your favourite bands. Buy their albums, buy tickets to see them live. In the song ‘Rubber Ring’ by the Smiths, Morrissey sings, “don’t forget the songs that made you cry / and the songs that saved your life”. For many of us, rock bands aren’t peripheral items in our lives. They mean something to us. They become so important to our way of life, they become part of our family. So if for some reason the time comes for them to break up, at least you can say that you were there for them. Just like they were there for you.

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it. If you want a track removed, email us and we'll sort it ASAP.

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