10 for 2014: #2 – China Rats

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

There seems to be this ongoing confusion at the major British music magazines on who the next great British guitar band will be. And there’s always contention over which publication is going to break said next great British guitar band and who the next flavour of the month will actually be. Never mind how long they actually stay in the public’s consciousness. Last year, if you were religiously reading NME, you were probably getting your rocks off Peace, who actually placed fifth on the TGTF 10 for 2013 poll last year, thanks to our readers’ good graces. But excuse me while I yawn. I thought it was strange that Peace were chosen to close out this year’s British Music Embassy at SXSW; to me, there are so many far more better UK bands who had made the trip to Austin that deserved that spot instead. I just didn’t get them Brummies. And initially, I didn’t warm to China Rats either. But sometimes seeing is believing, even if you have to be clocked (musically) in the head a second time to see the light.

China Rats are from Leeds. If you are like me and have never actually been to Leeds, you have this image in your head, fostered by seemingly well-meaning friends from America who say, “don’t visit, it’s gritty and dirty and there’s nothing there.” Err, okay. I suppose in the case of China Rats, this worked to their advantage in my mind: this supposed urban squalor I then envisioned was exactly the kind of environment I’d expect a band like them to rise up from. Again, I’ve never visited the place and I have friends from round there who have nothing but good things to say about Leeds as a city, but in terms of any ensuing future band mythology, I think the image serves them well. I say this with affection, because you don’t expect searing, hard-hitting rock coming from places with bright, shiny, scrubbed-clean surfaces, do you?

The grammatically incorrect ‘To Be Like I’ EP, released on their current label Once Upon a Time Records, was their first foray in the music world in the spring of 2012. It’s interesting how the band has evolved, because the EP’s title track sounds very Beatle-y, with its “ay ay ays”. Not bad, but not a standout. It was, however, a big enough record for Radio 1’s Huw Stephens to jump onboard and be one of their first high-profile supporters. Full of piss and vinegar, single ‘(At Least Those) Kids Are Getting Fed’ released in autumn 2012 represented a shift in direction. As in providing the sonic equivalent to a swift boot kick up the rear.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52bv0BorhFM[/youtube]

I’ll be honest, when I saw them at this year’s SXSW playing this song, I wasn’t all that impressed: they seemed a little too green, a little too tentative. A lot of people showed up to see them play at Latitude 30, which is great, but I kind of groaned over it because I was sure some of them had come because they’d see their all too brief write-up described here in American pop culture and fashion magazine Nylon. I’d hoped people had come for the music and actually heard the mp3 of the single they’d given away, and not because they’d seen their photo and decided, “ooh, let’s go see some cute British boys!” (If you’re wondering, I’ve actually been approached and interrogated at SXSW by American girls with such tendencies…)

I’m glad I made the commitment to see them 2 months later at the Great Escape 2013, because what a difference 2 months made for them. Maybe it was the not suffering from jetlag and only a mere drive down from Yorkshire to Brighton, or because they were back home in blighty; whatever it was, they came out swinging with their blistering brand of rebel rock and the crowd reaction was enormous. I’ve not gotten the chance to meet them in person – hopefully sometime soon! – but Blue Corner Store did a lovely interview with them in Brighton, which you can watch at the end of this post.

In Austin, I seriously doubted those that compared them to the Clash and the Ramones early on. But you can hear echoes of the NYC and London brands of punk loud and clear in their latest EP, ‘Don’t Play with Fire’, released in September. I thought the EP was near brilliance; you can read my thoughts about the EP here. Lead single ‘N.O.M.O.N.E.Y’ could be the rallying cry for the hard-working but skint musicians of the world, and the song’s message would have been equally applauded by Joe Strummer and Joe Ramone. Sometimes what you need in your life is something to make you feel alive, and musically, 2 years after their formation, China Rats seem to have sussed this.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNQS4bt4aXg[/youtube]

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8 Responses

11:02 am
12th December 2013

10 for 2014: #2 – with plenty of swagger, China Rats @chinarats might just be the Next Great British Guitar Band: http://t.co/Wek70OgchU

11:03 am
12th December 2013

RT @tgtf: 10 for 2014: #2 – with plenty of swagger, China Rats @chinarats might just be the Next Great British Guitar Band: http://t.co/Wek…

11:17 am
12th December 2013

RT @tgtf: 10 for 2014: #2 – with plenty of swagger, China Rats @chinarats might just be the Next Great British Guitar Band: http://t.co/Wek…

1:03 pm
12th December 2013

RT @tgtf: 10 for 2014: #2 – with plenty of swagger, China Rats @chinarats might just be the Next Great British Guitar Band: http://t.co/Wek…

4:48 pm
12th December 2013

RT @tgtf: 10 for 2014: #2 – with plenty of swagger, China Rats @chinarats might just be the Next Great British Guitar Band: http://t.co/Wek…

8:39 pm
12th December 2013

RT @tgtf: 10 for 2014: #2 – with plenty of swagger, China Rats @chinarats might just be the Next Great British Guitar Band: http://t.co/Wek…

[…] the announcement yesterday that Leeds band China Rats landed at #2 in the TGTF 10 for 2014 readers’ poll, I had a cheeky chat with the Rats’ frontman […]

3:34 pm
16th December 2013

10 for 2014: #2 – China Rats (@chinarats) | There Goes The Fear (@TGTF) http://t.co/PlD9YXEv9z

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