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Interview: This Boy That Girl

 
By on Thursday, 28th August 2014 at 11:00 am
 

Alec and Becca King are better known as This Boy That Girl, a brother and sister pop/hip-hop duo from Los Angeles. The siblings are currently supporting Aaron Carter on his American dates and are a part of the Anti-Bullying Tour. They took some time out from their busy schedule to talk to There Goes The Fear.

This Boy That Girl was formed three years ago when Becca would play acoustic guitar and Alec would freestyle over it. Inspired by the likes of Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne, Eminem and Ed Sheeran, the duo have recently released their first EP, ‘Breaking Bad’ (no relation to the crime drama television series of the same name).

‘Sweet Life’ is the lead single from the EP which, according to Becca, is about “hanging out with your friends and just having a good time”. She continued: “It’s not about having everything you could ever want, it’s about appreciating what you have and making your life a ‘Sweet Life’”. The music video for ‘Sweet Life’, which was directed by Sequoia B, shows This Boy That Girl dancing and partying in colourful environments. “It was so much fun,” said Becca, “It was our first legit video shoot so we were so excited. All our friends came out and it was fun.”

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The duo are currently supporting Aaron Carter on his American tour. Becca described the experience as “really awesome! The fans are amazing and Aaron is super cool”. As well as the Aaron Carter tour, This Boy That Girl are also a part of the Anti-Bullying Tour – a 20 city tour spearheaded by Champions Against Bullying. “We’ve been sharing our story through our music with our audience,” the pair said, “Most of the fans are from high schools and middle schools. It’s been amazing.”

Siblings are well known for not getting on with each other, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with This Boy That Girl. “We’ve had small sibling rivalry things but nothing huge,” said Becca, “It’s all fun and we have each other’s back at the end of the day.” As for the future, This Boy That Girl are going to “keep writing and performing”. Becca added: “If you haven’t heard of us yet… you will.”

This Boy That Girl’s debut EP ‘Breaking Bad’ is out now on Big Dream Productions.

 

Interview: Van McCann of Catfish and the Bottlemen at Kendal Calling 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 19th August 2014 at 11:00 am
 

One only has to spend a handful of minutes in the presence of Catfish and the Bottlemen’s slight lead singer and head honcho Van McCann to be exposed to a masterclass in extrovert charm. Everyone he passes gets a smile and a friendly “Hello, how’re you doing?”, no matter whether they’re a fellow big-name musician or simply an anonymous scribe tapping away on a keyboard that he happens to be walking past. That it’s all done with such genuine humility and joie de vivre makes the experience utterly compelling – a quality that feeds back into the band’s live performance. Politicians could learn a thing or two from him about making friends and influencing people.

TGTF caught up with McCann just an hour or so before his band’s performance at Kendal Calling 2014, which would pack the Calling Out tent to such an extent that people were spilling out of its sides, braving torrential rain and a sloppy mudbath to catch a glimpse of who are sure to be one of 2015’s big headline acts in the making.

I was looking forward to seeing you last weekend at Deer Shed – why didn’t that work out?
I know mate, tell me about it. We’ve had a really bad 2 weeks. We missed Tramlines in Sheffield as well, which is one of my favourite festivals in the world. I know the promoter quite well, he gave us our first ever gig in Sheffield and I was so gutted – we never let people down.

You’re well known for doing a lot of hard work though so I suppose at some point the pressure must tell a little bit.
It was nice because everyone understood because they know that we’re that kind of band who love gigging – I hate being in the studio, I hate being anywhere else except live so it ruined me to miss them but honestly, if you knew the stuff going on – it was terrible.

I guess everyone knew you wouldn’t just do that on a whim.
It’s alright now, we’re back, and I feel good, I’m excited.

So TGTF first caught up with you at the Communion gig in London last year…
That might have been the day we got signed – I think it was, in fact. That Communion show – you were probably thinking, “where’s this band come from”, which wasn’t the case at all – we’d been playing to empty rooms all our lives, playing acoustic gigs for money, coming from nothing. So to be able to come off the dole, onto a deal, it was mad.

We played T in the Park the other week, and I was nearly crying! You know singers are supposed to be cool onstage, well, I came offstage thinking, “That gig was amazing but I’ve just ruined any credibility I’ve ever had!” I was trying to sing the songs, but I couldn’t because I was laughing my head off. We started playing ‘Kathleen’ and everyone was bouncing and singing and I literally couldn’t get my words out because I was so overwhelmed by it. Yeah, it blows me away. My Dad brought me up very much based around live music, I’d go to see people like Van Morrison and be genuinely blown away, so when I can see a crowd doing that for us it’s unreal to me, man!

There’s always a moment at festivals when it all comes together and the tears well up, but for it to happen in front of so many people must make it even more special.
It’s just mad, a really good feeling. When I went to see Oasis at Heaton Park, I remember thinking it feels like everyone in Manchester is going to the same place – as if Jesus had come back – everyone would go to the same place. It used to be everyone was thinking about Jesus, and everyone there was thinking about Oasis. It’s just the feeling of 1,000 or 2,000 people being in a tent, going, we’re going to see Catfish, we’re going to see Catfish! I love it, it’s the best feeling in the world.

So was that always your aspiration, to be, you could say, as big as Oasis.
Bigger! Bigger than them. I want to be the biggest thing ever. I don’t see the point in it otherwise, it’s like saying you want to be a professional footballer but you’re happy sitting on the bench at Leeds. Why wouldn’t you want to be the best on the planet? I hope it doesn’t come across as arrogant when I say that, but if I was a bin man, I’d want to be the best bin man. It’s about being the best band we possibly can and getting as many people into us as possible. It’s very much about getting as big as it can possibly get. I love it all, I love everything to do with it. We’ve never been in a band to make music to sell it, we used to give all our CDs away…

I think I got a free CD at the Communion show…
That was the day we had to stop doing it! The day the record label said we need to make money! I hate being in the studio, I hate chart positions and all that stuff, I’m not fussed about any of it – selling out gigs is what I care about, and now they’re selling out – I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Your singles have been pretty well received as well, with Zane Lowe loving them…
Steve Lamacq started all that, and there’s a guy called Jason Carter who gets overlooked from the BBC, he doesn’t get enough credit, he’s been a really important person for this band. Steve Lamacq gave us our first radio play when I was 15! He called me a poetic genius when I was 15 – imagine me going into school the next day, I was like, “Told you!”

So you’re still on an upwards trajectory then – it remains to be seen how far you can go…
That’s the exciting thing – it could all fall apart tomorrow. With the album, I’m so proud of it – in the past, if someone hasn’t liked something, I’ve said, “Well, that’s because we didn’t have enough time to record it”, or whatever, but this album I’m made up with it. I want people to come up to me and say it’s garbage, I want people to feel something from it. It’s dead exciting! I hope that never stops, I hope we never get to the point where it can’t get any bigger, I just want it to get bigger and bigger and bigger, but I want to do it really slowly, because I don’t want to lose that intimacy at gigs – we stay behind after every gig. I don’t like rock stars who are aliens, when you’re wondering what they’re up to backstage. I love it when people tell me “I hate that song, it’s shite!” and we have a good crack about it. It’s really fun.

So, Oasis got to the stage when they made these huge, overblown records, do you think you’ll ever reach that stage?
I hope so. I hope we get the opportunity to make an overblown record. We’re not druggies though, so I don’t think we’ll get into LSD and grow beards and all that shit. But I hope it gets to the size where we get the opportunity to go, “Let’s make a mental record,” but I hope it just keeps getting bigger and bigger so we can keep putting music out for people. We’re not one of those bands who – at the moment anyway – want to change our sound, we just want it to be about the songs.

That’s good, because you make – I don’t want to use the word mainstream – accessible, direct, rock music.
I like the word mainstream though, I’m not afraid of it.

It’s a bit of a dirty word though, isn’t it? Appealing to the masses. But surely that’s the whole point of music?
That’s the thing – when people compare us to bands – I hate being compared to the Strokes or whatever, but I love the Strokes! If you’re comparing us to the Strokes, then go for it! I don’t mind. I don’t mind anything, because we are mainstream! When I write songs, I think “are 60,000 people going to sing this in a field”, whereas other people write songs for themselves and if other people get it then that’s brilliant. But for me I’m thinking like, “is someone going to fall in love with this tune?” or “are people going to have sex in a car to this? Are people going to be bouncing at gigs to this?” I think about all those things. So I’m not scared of being mainstream, I want to be mainstream. People have a go at the Kings Of Leon for selling out – I resent that. They got really annoyed about it, when people got mad at them for writing ‘Sex on Fire. If that song hadn’t been on the radio, Kings Of Leon fans would have been fine about it, but so what? Sell out arenas, man, get as big as you can! If you’re filling 20,000 caps a night, it’s better than doing 200.

You’re bringing pleasure to more people that way.
Music’s about making people happy and positive, it’s not about your ego or ruining your image or anything like that, so we’re not scared of being mainstream. It’s nice that you say that though, I hope we are mainstream. We’re not clever enough or good looking enough to be outside the box. So we’re very much like, while everyone else does the tricky stuff outside the box, we’ll just stay right in the middle of it and try and write really good songs.

There’s a definite lack of pretension in your music.
I think it’s because we’re from nowhere. We didn’t have anything before we got the deal, we were all on the dole and when we got the deal we still paid each other as much as the dole so it felt like we were still on the dole. So we still skimped. I love everything about it – I love interviews, I love these buses [we’re sitting upstairs in a double-decker bus converted into a media centre], we got free pies, man! Pie Minister! I couldn’t afford a pie at one time, and now I’m getting free pies! It’s ace.

It sounds like you’re really enjoying it.
I couldn’t be happier. It’s the time of my life. But it’s nice that people like you have seen us that long ago because I’ve been doing interviews lately where they’re asking “so you’ve just blown out of nowhere, last week?” You would have seen us about 2 years ago [in reality it was 18 months ago, but neither of us were exactly sure at the time]. My Dad was there that day. He used to have to drive us everywhere, and we sacked him and he got really offended. He drove us to Germany non-stop, for 16 hours or something, and we had to sack him or I thought he’d die in our presence. So I had to sack him before I killed him!

And with that, our time is up with Van McCann. Who wants to be bigger than Oasis, isn’t afraid of being mainstream, and loves a good pie, especially if they’re free. Their gig later on is one of the highlights of the festival, and McCann’s charm works wonders on the sodden crowd, warming them through with an unexpected Rod Stewart singalong. Only 18 short months since we last saw them, not only are Catfish And The Bottlemen on the list of British guitar bands, they’re not far off the top of it right now. Give it a bit more time, and unlikely as it seems, Van McCann might be closer to achieving his dream than you might think.

 

Interview: Brandon Thorn and Jordy Fujiwara of sourced.fm

 
By on Tuesday, 1st July 2014 at 11:00 am
 

Besides being known as *the* hotbed for new band discovery, Austin during SXSW has the added massive benefit of the sheer fact that tonnes and tonnes of great musical minds are all in one place for a week. It was at this year’s event that I was introduced to the concept and the very new company based in Toronto that goes by the name sourced.fm. It was pitched to me as a forward-thinking version of the often cringe-worthy band Web site bulletin boards I frequented in the early days of the internet, but with some major differences, including its focus on the importance of local music communities and direct artist to fan interaction in a better way than we’ve seen with other sites. As I was keen to learn more about the company, founder Brandon Thorn and co-founder Jordy Fujiwara were very kind to answer some of my burning questions about what they do and what they hope to achieve with sourced.fm.

Tell us a bit about yourself/yourselves. What is/are your role/roles in sourced.fm?
Jordy: I’m originally from the east coast of Canada – Halifax, Nova Scotia. My background is social psychology and business. As a startup, everyone takes on every role, but my business cards say “co-founder, marketing”.
Brandon: I’m a developer and lifetime music lover. I’ve been developing sourced.fm over the past few years, starting as a hobby project and turning into a lot more. I’ve been mostly focussed on development, but part of the appeal has always been the excuse to go to shows more so now that we’re running I’ll be switching to the fun part.

What are the core philosophies and values of sourced.fm?
Jordy: The core belief is that success in music starts with a local community. We also believe that a community with a purpose is literally one of the most powerful things in society (see: society).

So how did the idea of sourced.fm come about? What was the impetus to start your own company?
Brandon: sourced.fm has never really felt like a company, more like a mission. It started a few years ago when I started to reflect on my time in the local Belleville scene. I was always struck by how one band in particular who had a ton of local support couldn’t make it turn into more outside the city. It never really made sense to me, so I started to think about how artists grow and how people interact within the community to try to reimagine how we make and support music. The result is sourced.fm, both the released and unreleased parts.

Did you find yourselves / what made you disillusioned to what you saw in other online music communities? How does sourced.fm address / hope to address those issues?
Jordy: For me, it’s not so much disillusionment as it is…seeing untapped potential. There are all sorts of awesome little music communities online but they’re just kind of there for the sake of being there. The only thing sustaining them is the collective interest of the people that use them, which is fine! But if you add some direction and purpose to that environment? Magic.
Brandon: For me, it’s much the same. I’ve seen how amazingly supportive local music communities can be, and I’ve seen how supportive great online communities can be, like Reddit for example. We want to blur those lines with the purpose of helping local artists and the communities they come from.

How will / does sourced.fm cater to local music communities and how is it different from other social media sites we see out on the internet now? If someone joins your Web site today, what kind of things can they do? How can they get involved?
Jordy: Many social media sites either have no forum or add one as an afterthought or feedback system. At sourced, the discussion is the core and all the other features exist to support it.
Brandon: Anyone who’s familiar with local music forums has probably seen some of the powerful ways they can be used to keep the scene connected and alive. Most things a scene needs, like booking, live reviews, a way to share and talk about what’s going on, etc., can be done through a discussion forum because conversations are how they’re all handled offline too. We have a number of additional features we’ll be periodically releasing that offers more formalized solutions for some of those needs, but the most important part is the people and the community so we want to focus on building that first. [An up-to-date “what can I do here?” / “what will I be able to do here?” list exists here.]

In what important ways is sourced.fm different from other music Web sites that seek to draw in fan and artist engagement? What do you hope will draw music fans to join?
Jordy: Being obsessed with community, another thing that sets us apart is that we’re allowing the userbase to take an active part in the actual construction of the site. There are progress bars and transparent updates that people can provide immediate feedback on – it’s not an afterthought system – it IS part of the system. This way, sourced becomes what the music industry needs it to be versus being limited to what the founders envision.

I can see the sourced.fm concept working really well in what I consider cities traditionally open to and embracing new music (your own city of Toronto; New York City and Los Angeles in America; London, Manchester and Glasgow in the UK; Sydney and Melbourne in Australia; Tokyo, Japan), but how do you see this working in smaller, possibly less accessible towns?
Jordy: The Internet eliminates a lot of the barriers that geography once imposed. Every large music centre has tendrils and tour lines that extend out into the surrounding area; your biggest fans could be from halfway around the world. sourced is designed to fit the needs of anything between three music enthusiasts operating out of Andrew, Alberta to a network of promoters based in NYC.
Brandon: To add to that, we want to help local artists to exist outside of their own city. If you don’t have local support for your genre, but say Montreal does, you can override the city for your discussion and post out to Montreal to get to know their community better. Alternatively, if your city is small or remote, using sourced.fm helps the music enthusiasts in that town stay more connected which can create more opportunities for music to get made. And then there’s always the macro aspect that helps content bubble up to the whole community regardless of where it came from if you’re not filtering for location. We’re really trying to make something that can work across the board because music is everywhere.

From the artist perspective, it’s my understanding that sourced.fm will provide a more integrated way / one stop shop for them to build their audience through your online communities, as well as do things such as crowd funding, which is the primary goal of services like Kickstarter and PledgeMusic. If you were talking one-on-one with an artist today, how would you convince that artist to join you instead of / in addition to one of your competitors? What does sourced.fm bring to the table that’s special?
Jordy: We tell them this: we will provide the exact same service as a Kickstarter as far as crowdfunding goes. You can do it on Kickstarter or Pledgemusic, and it’ll be fine, it’s a great service. Or you can do it on sourced, where there’s not only an active and passionate community, but also a constant mission to build and support that community.
Brandon: At the end of the day, sourced.fm is what you make of it. If you just need a place to crowdfund, that’s awesome, we’ll have you covered. If you just want to chat about music, or have a music blog, or keep notes about your music life, you can do all that. The features aren’t anything shiny or special on their own, the thing that’s special is that those features tie into an active and persistent community that drives the whole thing forward. We don’t want to end up with a software solution, we want a people solution.

If you could choose to work with any artist on a special campaign on sourced.fm, who would it be and why?
Jordy: We’ve always looked at Amanda Palmer as being someone who really understands the power of the crowd – not just from a funding perspective but also from a truly revolutionary communications standpoint.
Brandon: Amanda Palmer would be amazing. I’d also personally love to do something with Watsky. I’ve been a fan for a while, and his music was a big part of my listening for giant chunks of working on sourced.fm. I saw him in Toronto and he stopped part way through to talk about the importance of community and how much he appreciated the support, which he also talked about, teary-eyed, in a YouTube video from his album release. I know we’d pitch it and he’d get it, and I’d love a chance to connect him and his community for a special project.

Currently, the site allows for users in America and Canada. Are there plans to expand further afield beyond North America?
Brandon: Yes, we’d love to expand, and we really hope we can sooner rather than later. It’s more a matter of logistics than anything else. We plan on releasing crowdfunding sooner than we’d be able to connect with and seed overseas communities, and with crowdfunding comes the business side of things that has to keep everything running smoothly which borders tend to complicate. For now, we’re a very small team, so supporting the world just isn’t possible for us yet. As we have more to work with, we can do more so I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to remove borders as quickly as possible.

What’s next for sourced.fm? What’s in the pipeline that your users and artists can be excited about?
Jordy: My, where to start? I’m pretty excited to enable our “Hz” system that allows people to see who or what is getting the most support from the community. Brandon?
Brandon: Once we get through releasing some of the missing core features like messaging, Hz and our social integrations, I’m looking forward to getting people using the crowdfunding service. I think once we’ve got it running, the difference a community model will make for crowdfunding is going to be clearer and knowing that we’re going to be very tangibly helping artists live their passions is the reason this whole thing started, so for me that’s exciting.

Many thanks to Brandon and Jordy for answering my questions about their exciting project.

 

Interview: Fearless Vampire Killers at Camden Rocks 2014

 
By on Friday, 27th June 2014 at 11:00 am
 

With an acoustic gig down and a full blown electric fandango to follow, TGTF seized the opportunity to crack open a cold one (and, not the beer-y kind…) with horror punk five-piece Fearless Vampire Killers at Camden Rocks 2014. The bumpkins from Beccles turned bombastic ball busters with extra bite gave the low down on Katy Perry, festival fun times and inter band rivalry in the shires.

The theme of today is rock music. How important do you believe events like this are to the genre as a whole?
Kier Kemp (KK): Well, I guess I would have to say very important! Specific rock festivals are always important because it’s a genre that gets a lot of bad press, in the sense that everybody is always going on about dying all the time. “Oh, rock’s dead”! That guitar music’s dead, but it never is and just lives on. There are always people that don’t want to listen to fucking Katy Perry… Even though I love Katy Perry, actually. That was a bad example! But, [people who] don’t want to listen to something else rubbish. It is important to have something billed as rock. It’s like: “rock music together, man!”
Cyrus Barrone (CB): This festival is particularly good because it’s got the whole street. So many venues and so many different things going on. You can basically stumble into someone you haven’t known before. You hear something outside, like when we were playing earlier with all the windows open so everybody could hear it. It means that, even if you’re not at the festival, you’re still hearing that rock music’s alive and well in Camden. If I hear a snippet of something, I’ll think “I’ll need to check that out” – that’s the appeal of these types of festival.

How does it feel to be playing in Camden, with such a unique rock music heritage? Do you feed off that a little bit?
KK: It’s pretty cool. We live down the road so it’s not quite as exciting for us…
CB: We’re seasoned!
Laurence Beveridge (LB): We used to play here every month. We had our own club night at a place called Tommy Flynn’s. We played it every month and at the first three there weren’t people there.
KK: They charged 50p to get in. We didn’t want to make money, they just wanted people to come.
Drew Woolnough (DW): We used to flyer around Camden market. Well, not flyers but wax sealed envelopes inviting people to come to the gigs. It didn’t make any difference, but it looked fucking cool.
LB: Every band in London has played a million shit gigs in Camden – write that down!
DW: But, there’ll always be a gleaming gold one, like when we played The Underworld.
LB: Some our best gigs have been in Camden. The Barfly – we sold that out. The Underworld. Where else have we played?
CB: Purple Turtle!
KK: Camden is a place of highs and lows. It’s got that stigma.
LB: We used to be here every night, just trying to meet new people and bands.

What’s your favourite Camden venue?
KK: Of the bigger ones, Roundhouse is an amazing venue. The smaller ones, Barfly, now. It used to be shite but they put a new system in and it sounds good, so Barfly’s good now. That’s where we met our sound technician, actually.

What is it that makes a good Camden venue?
KK: Dirty!
DW: It’s got to be grimy but also sound good. Sometimes you have grimy and run down, which is not good… But, then you’ve got grimy and it’s meant to be grimy. When you walk into The Underworld, you feel this stench – a wave of sweat comes over you, but you don’t mind because you know you’re going to have a good night. We don’t mind smelling of shit. It’s all about the vibes!

Urban festivals, or fun in a field?
KK: I’ve never been a massive purveyor of festivals, just because I’m a pansy and I don’t like being dirty. So, the only way I can survive is trying to be drunk the whole time, so I don’t realise I’m disgusting and horrible.
LB: I think the best festival to play and be at – definitely to play – is Takedown Festival, because it’s fucking brilliant! They just give you loads of booze, and – there’s booze everywhere. You can go anywhere with your booze. It’s all within the university, and it’s so easy to get to. There’s like five stages within three minutes’ walking distance. It’s just a walk through to another room. Just so easy, so relaxed.
CB: You feel so connected. You feel like you really get to talk to everyone. You get to meet all your friends, and talk to new bands.
LB: With most festivals, there’s always the fear of being run over. At a field festival, if you fall over then you just get a bit muddy. If you fall over here, you might get run over by a bus! I did once get run over at Glastonbury. I just wasn’t paying attention. There’s this one road that they’d kind of sectioned off – “This is where cars go”. I didn’t know this, and got run over. I say ‘run over’, he kind of nudged me out the way.
CB: But, you’ve never been run over at Camden Rocks…

Just to stick with the ‘rock’ theme; what inspired you to start making rock music in the first place?
KK: Something random, I guess. It’s kind of what you grow up with to a degree, isn’t it? My Mum was into the old punk stuff. She was a punk back when she was a kid and I just grew up on what they listened to. Then, I guess you just get naturally drawn to that kind of subculture, in a way, because if you’re not – and I hate to say mainstream – but, if you don’t fit in as a person, you often turn to things that also aren’t mainstream.
LB: At the time we were growing up, rock music was really popular. It was in every film – every thing. ‘American Pie’ had this punk rock soundtrack. ‘School of Rock’ had just come out. Everything was very rock orientated.
KK: We had pop punk, and then nu metal, and then emo all within the early years of our youth.
LB: Even hardcore was part of our youth.
CB: You get these massive albums like ‘American Idiot’ and ‘The Black Parade’; even The Killers. They were rock. Everyone had a bit of rock in them.
LB: This is what you did. If you didn’t play football, you were in a band. In our town, Beccles, there was a population of like 6,000. It’s not a big population and there were like fucking 20 bands – and we were all trying to get the same gigs. Even we were in rival bands. Half of the band… they’re two different bands.
CB: We’ve formed an uneasy alliance now…

So, there’s still some general suspicion?
CB: Oh yeah…
LB: Massive suspicion!

 

Interview: Ben Marvin and J Hurley of Hacktivist at Camden Rocks 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 11th June 2014 at 11:00 am
 

With a name like Hacktivist, an interview with some kind of 21st century incarnation of HAL 9000 would have sufficed. Instead, vocalists Ben Marvin and J Hurley spurn the monotone passive aggression to offer a colourful account of their rise to prominence, their unique rap/metal crossover style and and their love for the borough that is the heartland for London’s alternative scene at this year’s Camden Rocks festival.

So, obviously the theme of today is rock music. How important do you believe events like this are to the genre as a whole?
Ben Marvin: Very important, man! It brings everyone together – a lot of bands that have done festivals and tours together all getting to mingle. It’s good for the fans because they get to split and choose who to see and at what venue and stuff. But, yeah, really cool.

How does it feel to be playing in Camden, with such a unique rock music heritage? Do you feed off that a little bit?
J Hurley: I love coming to Camden and playing music. Every time. Obviously it’s the heart of music for London. I’ve always enjoyed playing here. The crowd’s always crazy – everyone’s always crazy! Every time we play it’s always energetic and just… crazy!
BM: It’s always a good vide in Camden. Good Chinese too.

What’s your favourite Camden venue?
JH: Underworld. But, I went to see Yelawolf at The Electric Ballroom, and that was awesome.

What is it about the Underworld that keeps drawing you back?
JH: It’s nice and dark and dingy and low…
BM: It’s a grimy venue, but it’s a big grimy venue. So, it’s the best of both worlds. Your on top of the crowd; it’s really intimate, small stage. There’s a lot of injuries take place. Ticks all the boxes.

Urban festivals, or fun in a field?
BM: I say both. Both have their qualities. I think we’re yet to play a festival or gig that we haven’t enjoyed. There’s pros to playing urban festivals. We played a lot of festivals last year where the bill’s were all over the place with the artists that were playing. So, we love doing shit like that. But, at the same time we’ve played stuff like Fieldview, which was kind of like a hippy fest so we were really out of place there. And, that was a proper ‘sit down on the grass’ kind of thing – and even that fucking went off. So, I think all festivals are good.

Sticking with the ‘rock’ theme; what inspired you to start making rock music in the first place?
JH: For me, my brother kept coming home with loads of drum n bass/rave tapes. It wasn’t even called drum n bass then! It was just ‘rave’ music to me. And, then I used to listen to the tapes and sing along to them, and then one day I just thought I might as well make my own lyrics. Rather than singing their stuff, I’ll just write my own. That was when I was young. I was probably about 14-15 when that started happening, and then when I got to 16 I thought “Right, I’m going to write lyrics now”. From then, that was it.

So, lyrically, who are your main influences?
JH: I’ve got a log of influences, like Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Pharrell Williams, P Money, I like Eminem
BM: Obviously, J’s not from the rock scene. I kind of wheeled him in a few years back, and ever since then I’ve been getting him in to metal. Then, about a year later, that’s when we started Hacktivist. I’ve been in metal (there or thereabouts) bands since I was 14, so me and J I guess got in to the music scene at the same time but from different angles. I mean, I’ve always been involved in the rock scene, so we kind of met in the middle and created Hacktivist.

How’s the reception been to your unique brand of crossover?
JH: They’re loving it. The reception’s been amazing – the reception’s been better than I thought. Every gig’s been like “woah!” – people singing along. Even when we went to Russia, there were people singing along to every single word of the lyrics. I just thought “wow!”, it blew me away, man.
BM: We’re definitely a ‘love or hate’ band. I think when we started, there was a lot of controversy about what we were doing for some reason; because we don’t fit in to a certain category or whatever. We never tried to be a certain thing anyway. It was just an experiment. We never realised we would even be a band. I think, over the course of time, even the haters are slowly moving over because – a lot of people who hear us, don’t like us. They come and see us live, and they come and speak to us and are like: “I never really got you guys, but now I get it”. It takes a while. I mean, I was the same when I was a kid and first heard Slipknot, I was like: “What the fuck is this shit?” – this is when I first started getting into the rock music and stuff. And, you know what, I listened to the album 2 or 3 times on loop and something just clicked. From then I was into heavy music. I can understand why people would automatically take a dislike to us, but overall I think the reception’s been way better than we could have ever dreamed of, man. It’s just going up and up!

Stay tuned for more of Ben’s coverage of Camden Rocks coming soon.

 

Interview: Olly Burden of Hounds at Camden Rocks 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 10th June 2014 at 11:00 am
 

B-movie mad scientists Hounds – a motley troupe of up-and-coming electro punk rockers – were delighted to occupy their slot at The Underworld for Camden Rocks 2014. Having escaped the ecological entanglement of their countryside roots, TGTF’s own Ben Parkinson managed to grab 5 minutes with lead singer Olly Burden to muse on the day and its impact on the scene at large. Here’s what he had to say:

The theme of today is rock music. How important do you believe events like this are to the genre as a whole?
I think, very important really. As we were driving into here today, as we were loading our gear in, the whole of Camden had been taken over completely by bands. Everywhere you look there’s splitter vans and transit band pulling up. I’m really impressed, to be honest, as to what Chris [McCormac, the event organiser] has done. I’m really impressed, man, he’s done a great job and it provides the opportunity for a lot of people to get some publicity – to get their name out there. And, he’s sold it out, which is amazing. I think it can only be good for the rock scene as a whole. This IS the British rock scene – the capital – and everyone’s come here to play and show what they’ve got. So, respect.

How does it feel to be playing in Camden, with such a unique rock music heritage? Do you feed off that a little bit?
We love playing Camden. We’re not a London band. We come from a tiny village out in the middle of nowhere. So, for us to be included in this type of thing is always a big deal. Even though we come up here and play a lot, it’s still a big deal because there was nothing to do where we came from apart from cause trouble and start fires and stuff like that. So, we use to look at this sort of thing and think, you know, “one day we’ll be included in something like that”. For us, now, to get the invite to play something like this, it’s like a sense of achievement. It felt like something that we would never be able to do because there was nothing going on and we didn’t feel like part of a scene where we came from. We had to work hard to get here. We love it. To be included in this today is great.

What’s your favourite Camden venue?
It’s hard to say! We’ve played most of them. We tend to play The Barfly a lot, so I’d have to say The Barfly just because we feel most at home there. The dressing room is kind of like our own living room. And, if we’re not playing and we’re going to see our friends playing it’s still the same, because it’s our mates!

Urban festivals, or fun in a field?
It’s hard to say, because we’ve just played the urban festival and it was amazing. Fun in a field is always good. We come from the countryside, so maybe we feel more at home in the woods, in the dark surrounded by trees and shrubs. So, our own festival, I feel comfortable with.

Sticking with the ‘rock’ theme; what inspired you to start making rock music in the first place?
Well, my Dad was the drummer and singer in a band, so growing up I just used to listen to rock music all the time. It was what was played in my house, and I think it’s the same for anyone that ends up in a rock band. It’s the first sound you hear. Luckily for me, it was things like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple rather than some shit pop band. So, yeah, it was in my blood, even from being a little kid. And, then it’s the same for everyone else in the band. Like I say, we grew up together in a small village, and we all gravitated towards each other because we were the only people, in a place where there was nothing to do but course trouble and play football, we gravitated towards each other because of the same interest. So, we ended up in a band together, causing chaos.

We noticed during your set that there was an element of mad scientist, with everyone coming out all in white, this throbbing light and drone going off in the background. Could you tell us about the idea behind that?
We think of ourselves as, you know… We’re always experimenting, so I guess the tag mad scientist kind of fits. It feels comfortable hearing you say that. It’s like, in a sea of black, it would be quite fitting that we’re the only band swimming in the opposite direction. Looking around, I’m probably the only guy in Camden wearing white, and I’m quite happy with that. That’s where we wanna be. We’re swimming in the opposite direction to everybody else.

So… nothing to do do with purity then?
[Laughs] It’s fuck all to do with purity! Quite the opposite.

Stay tuned for more of Ben’s coverage of Camden Rocks coming soon.

 
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