By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 18th June 2013 at 4:00 pm
Saturday afternoon at the Great Escape 2013 I was at a loss of who to see next and I basically just scoured the programme for a band I’d never heard of and took a chance with it.
The band I ended up seeing at the Canada House showcase (yes, I saw bands other than British ones!) at the Blind Tiger was Winnipeg, Canada’s Boats, who turned out to be the quirkiest band at the Great Escape this year I would have never had the chance of knowing about if I hadn’t taken that risk. I suppose all bands from Canada who aren’t from the major cities of Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal have the cross to bear that they’ll always be deemed outsiders, but in this song called ‘Advice on Bears’, Boats seems to take this all in stride. You can read the full report of my day 3 afternoon here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 6th June 2013 at 6:00 pm
While I was disappointed that I couldn’t see nor hear Teleman very well at this year’s Great Escape, I’m pleased to announce they’ve got a new video for their new single ‘Steam Train Girl’. The song itself has a heavy guitar at the start, but then Tommy Sanders’ distinctive voice goes staccato to match the guitars and the dance beat, while a synth whines in the background. They’d never be confused for, oh, that other band they used to be part of (you know which one I’m talking about…) The single is available on limited edition 7″ and by digital download.
The phrase the ‘Nicest Man in Rock’ is bandied around quite liberally these days; Dave Grohl seems to have held onto the title the longest, but I am here to petition you that this accolade, that all makers of mosh pine for (not actually true) belongs to another individual, a certain Andrew Groves (@AndrewRoots) of Arcane Roots. Now, Andrew is but one-third of the beast that are Arcane Roots, with Adam Burton (@RootsBurton) and Daryl Atkins (@gunsandwolves) completing the line-up on bass and drums respectively.
Upon meeting Andrew, I’m not met by a battle weary rock-diva at the end of a triumphant set at Concorde 2; I’m instead met by a personable gentleman in a faux-tweed jacket, impeccably groomed and reaching my way with a welcoming hand in the cold Brighton air. I’m led towards Andrew and the band’s secluded tour bus for a brief chat before the entire Roots posse go in search of some famous fish and chips on the seaside. It’s a welcome reward for a band that seem to have taken everyone with a shock, after the release of their debut record ‘Blood and Chemistry’ and as they begin to make inroads on the mainstream rock circuit a la Biffy Clyro et al. (But more on them later.)
So where did Arcane Roots come from, I ask Andrew as we sit nestled in the tour bus, next to the band’s copies of comic book films Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim?
“Well, it wasn’t a name that came out of anything particularly relevant, or serendipitous, instead it was quite a manufactured process. We first came up with Arcane because we thought it sounded like a good name for a band! Then we went through what we thought would sound good with Arcane, so Arcane this, Arcane that, something Arcane and so on until we landed on Roots and it just worked.”
After meeting a lot of bands and hearing of even more artists who have now grown to loathe their name that they foolishly branded themselves as they first picked up a Fender, perhaps this way of going about it is more organic. Mr. Grohl gave Foo Fighters their name after “Allied aircraft pilots in World War II to describe various UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over both the European and Pacific Theatre of Operations”. And the ‘Nicest Man in Rock’ has grown to loathe the name, saying it’s a stupid name for a band.
Now, with Arcane Roots still in their rock infancy in comparison to such a behemoth of the music world, it’s not a surprise that the band have no qualms with the title they gave themselves less than half a decade ago at the band’s inception.
With the three-piece garnering positive criticism from the Kerrang!s and the Rocksounds of this world, it seems that it is a name that the rock community should get used to hearing. Especially if you add to that that their new record ‘Blood and Chemistry’ is arguable one of the strongest and most consistently brilliant rock albums of 2013.
So how did the album come together? Andrew admits that it was a less than organic process again: “Going into the studio was incredibly stressful for the main part of it! It was our first album and we put a lot of time and thought, probably even too much time and thought into everything we do, so just trying to decide what we wanted to be as a band, as it had been 2 years since we had put something out and we’ve been playing it a lot and we are at kind of a gateway deciding what kind of band we wanted to be, so it was kind of the hardest part everything coming together with the label, so it was mega stressful, right up until the last minute.
“We spent a month rehearsing and it was the three of us, just rehearsing in a room, as that is what the band is. We just woke up and made a new song every day, and really enjoyed ourselves, as it is nice to wake up and just create something.
“Putting it together was a very mathematical process though, so I would kind of feel like, ooh I want a 2 and a half minute song here, and this song would be good as number three or four on the record, but in the end it tells a kind of story, which is what we were going for.”
The record as I mentioned has been receiving positive reviews all around the blogosphere, and for good reason. It’s clever, and as Andrew mentioned intelligently, put together as well. While it has more hooks than a fishing port on market day, and riffs sharper than the aforementioned hooks!
So they’ve got a massive record and Andrew is going to take a lot of beating to be surpassed as my ‘Nicest Man in Rock’, I mean take it from one of his contemporaries, Itch, formerly of The King Blues. When posed with the question what is the band like to tour with? His response: “They’re just so nice, almost too nice! Because it makes me look even worse, so in the nicest way you’re hoping that they fuck up a bit or do something really bad so we end up looking less like dicks.” So it seems that even while the ‘lads are on tour’ they still behave immaculately, professionally and make friends along the way. Even if said friends wouldn’t mind them trashing a hotel room, or something equally rockstarish.
I was lucky enough to catch the band twice in as many weeks at two festivals, Liverpool Sound City at Screenadelica and again at the Great Escape 2013 at Concorde 2. After the Great Escape show, Andrew admitted that festivals can be a mixed bag: “They’re more stressful than normal shows, they are pretty like frantic kind of get on and go and you have 2 minutes to check, so hopefully everything works out all right. No sound check, just get on, people are moving stuff everywhere and stressing out, so it’s always nice when you just get on and the sound engineers are pretty on it.
“It was nice to see a nice crowd had come out to see us, as we didn’t play Brighton on our most recent tour. So it was nice to see people singing along and rocking out! I like to see people enjoying it, and every time we play anywhere across the country, it’s nice to see even one person singing along, as it just makes you seem more at home and in a way amongst friends. It’s a more relaxing experience, at least.”
So after a triumphant set at Concorde 2, Arcane Roots set off, in search of their fish and chip supper and the further success that seems almost guaranteed for the band. I left with a sense that I’d met the heir to Grohl’s throne, perhaps not in a musical sense, but definitely in the niceness stakes, Mr. Groves is up there with the kings.