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Slam Dunk South 2012 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 11th June 2012 at 1:00 pm
 

What started as a ska/punk club night in Leeds in 2007 has grown exponentially over the years into a staple part of the festival calendar. Held each year over the May Bank Holiday, Slam Dunk takes over Leeds and Hertfordshire universities on consecutive days to thousands of fans of hardcore, pop-rock, punk and metal. Eight stages of acts from across the world grace Hatfield on this sun-soaked Sunday to an army of baying fans who are queuing for hours in the dizzying heat to get to the front from the start.

In an exclusive performance to Slam Dunk South, the Orange County pop-punkers Zebrahead get the warmed up crowd bouncing with 45 minutes of positivity and smiles taken from their whopping nine-album back catalogue. Despite never reaching mainstream success, the California quintet have always had a strong following at festivals like Slam Dunk, and their set doesn’t disappoint the diehards. ‘Falling Apart’ and ‘Hello Tomorrow’ see the chanting and dancing escalate, accompanied by the traditional British lager chugging. The party has started.

Inside the maze that is Hertfordshire University, the marvellously mathy Marmozets are tearing apart the Vans Off the Wall stage to an audience of captivated onlookers. Having received praise from the likes of Kerrang! and Rock Sound in the past year or so, the Yorkshire yobs have lured in a few hundred revellers from the sunshine to bear witness to the deafening delights that frontwoman Becca Macintyre bellows and wretches for a stunning half hour of power. The confines of the stage are no match for these noisemongers, though, as the band throw themselves into the crowd for a round of spinning and thrashing to an audience that appear too petrified to move.

But back outside the mood is not one of aggression but joy as the LA party-bringers Say Anything launch head-first into a set of crowd-pleasers. The afternoon sun is basking the 1000+ fans at the Jägermeister stage who have been waiting for the energetic six-piece to return to the UK for years, and they’re not left disappointed. ‘Hate Everyone’ and ‘Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too’ see pints and bottles thrust into the air as the sunburnt Brits show their appreciation but it’s closer ‘Alive with the Glory of Love’ that sees the crowd erupt with cheers, chants and poorly coordinated dance moves. But the smile on the faces of the band and floor says it all, there’s no doubt a British tour is in the works as Say Anything definitely have the fanbase.

Away from the sunlight, the metalheads are amassing in the darkened room of the Honour Over Glory stage for the fastest rising stars in heavy music today: While She Sleeps. Hailing from the land of industrial steelworks, this band are all-out pure metal. The second largest stage of the festival is full of pitters and partiers who are ready to throw down with the best heavy band to come out of Sheffield since Rolo Tomassi. Opener ‘Dead Behind the Eyes’ kickstarts the air grabbing and elbow throwing as the floor opens into the Sarlacc with bodies for teeth. New track ‘This is the Six’ – the title track of their upcoming album – lifts the spirits and adrenaline levels to new highs but ‘The North Stands for Nothing’ is the real highlight. The room swells with the sound of over a thousand pairs of lungs screaming the words until throats are raw and bloody.

The sweat on the walls hasn’t had a chance to dry before everyone’s favourite Canadians, Cancer Bats, catapult themselves into a set of crowd pleasers to a fit-to-burst pit of punk. As frontman Liam Cormier rushes on stage they break into Beastie Boys‘ ‘Sabotage’ to a baying audience who kick, punch and push their way through to the front and shout appreciation for the fallen comrade MCA. The Bats have arranged a mixed bag of old and new treats that are created for days like today. ‘Trust No-one’ and ‘Bricks and Mortar’ are bellowed with such gusto from the stage and floor alike your pint begins to shake. ‘Drunken Physics’ is a welcome addition for fans of new album ‘Dead Set On Living’, who shout and snarl their way through the brilliant lyrics relating to chaos theory and multiple dimensions. New set staple ‘Roadsick’ rears its furious head for a high octane flurry of limbs on the floor, but closer ‘R.A.T.S.’ moves the droves to a near riot as blind carnage ensues and the metal masses plough toward the stage or into each other for one last round of hardcore’s finest.

The pace changes outside at the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage as Forever The Sickest Kids‘ brand of happy-go-lucky pop-punk packs the tent all the way to the back. It’s another long time coming for the Texan four-piece who rarely visit the British shores, despite their legions of fans who are out in force this evening. A crowd full of bright colours and neon provides the ideal surrounding for a band so full of bubblegum joy the air tastes of sugar. Dancing and whoa-ohing their way through a selection of favourites including ‘Hey Brittany’, ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Hip Hop Chick’. ‘She Likes’ sends the teenie boppers into a stupor of high-pitched wails and hand waving while ‘She’s a Lady’ ends the show with a round of wide-mouthed grins and before filing out for the headline sets of the night.

Shutting the doors on the Honour Over Glory stage today are the south coast screamers, Architects (pictured at top). With new album ‘Daybreaker’ going on sale the following day, these Brighton boys treat Hatfield to a handful of oldies and new ‘uns. Opening on the London riot-themed ‘Devil’s Island’, the rampant orgy of sweaty bodies in front of the stage resemble the chaotic nature to which the song concerns, but do so with such glee that there’s no animosity held in the recklessness. As front man Sam Carter peers into the darkness the battered bodies give more and more energy to the tune of ‘Learn To Live’ and new single ‘Alpha Omega’ that leaves the floor resembling the pandemonium usually reserved for a battle royale.

The band seem genuinely humbled to be headlining the stage today as Carter often repeats to the dazed crowd – it’s hard to believe the sudden rise in popularity in the last six months. ‘Hollow Crown’ and ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ are enough to finish off the most seasoned mosh master for the evening and it’s with the last note ringing out that Slam Dunk South comes to an end. Bruised, dizzy, and broken bodies fall out into the street and onto the shuttle bus to a baffled driver. It’s over for this year, but no doubt 2013 will bring another 12 hours of noise and nuisance to Hertfordshire ready to slam dunk it for the win.

 

Interview: Jimmy Lopez and Joe Lussa of The Audition at Slam Dunk South Festival

 
By on Monday, 11th June 2012 at 11:00 am
 

At a festival packed with American pop-punkers from top to bottom, I caught up with Jimmy Lopez and Joe Lussa from The Audition at this year’s Slam Dunk South for a quick talk about leaving Victory Records, their new EP and having legions of female fans.

You played Slam Dunk North yesterday, how was that for you?

Jimmy: Fun, man. It was awesome. It’s my first time here in the UK. Everything’s backwards like driving, but I like it.

Joe: He’s new, it’s his first time over here. But it’s our first time playing back in the UK for a few years, and it was awesome. The kids seem to be excited.

You’re playing alongside some pretty big bands in pop-punk, how does it feel to be a part of such a line-up?

Joe: It’s awesome. A lot of our friends are here so that’s cool – bands like Taking Back Sunday and Every Time I Die are bands we grew up listening to, so it’s cool to be playing the same festival as them.

You do festivals differently in America than the UK…

Joe: Well, these are definitely bigger than Warped Tour, I’d say.

Jimmy: Especially now.

Joe: As far as festivals go, we don’t do too many, but when you’re over here a lot of it is festivals, which is awesome because I enjoy festivals more than a regular tour. I like being around people and playing outside – it’s a lot of fun.

Do you prefer UK or US festivals?

Joe: UK. Always.

Your new EP ‘Chapter II’ came out in America a few months ago and it’s out in the UK on the 11th of June, can you tell us a bit about it?

Joe: We just tried to go back to the old style of the band, combining the sounds of the first two records together so we can give the fans what they know the band as. The other records were a lot more ‘poppy’ than the rock that we like to play.

This is an EP but you haven’t released a new album since 2010, are there plans for a new album?

Joe: There’s a lot of songs we have written that we didn’t put on the EP but we’ll probably end up writing instead and making it fresh instead.

How do the crowds like the new material?

Joe: The response has been good and it’s nice to be able to play those songs and have kids already know the words.

Jimmy: It was cool when they started singing along. I think that was probably the loudest crowd since I’ve played with them – even in America.

You left Victory Records 2 years ago, how has it been since you decided to go alone?

Joe: It’s nice, we don’t have to answer to anybody. It’s better because when things happen for the band we know it’s our hard work that’s paying off, it’s not the record label that’s getting these things for us. We have a great agent and manager so they help out a lot but it’s definitely nice to be a free agent and know that whatever songs we really like will be the ones that we release. No-one else can say “We’d like you to do something else” or “We’d like you to take a different route”, we can just release what we want to release.

Is it something you’d advocate? Would you encourage bands to go it alone?

Joe: It depends on what kind of band you are; if you’re a real pop singer, a record label is going to be your best bet. The bands and the connections they have to put you on the giant tours and you need that promotion. But I feel the internet is a very viable option now, you can do a lot of promotion for free yourself. If you spend enough time you can do really big things on the internet. So if you can do it and you’re willing to put the work in, it will pay off in the end.

There’s a lot of girls here wearing Audition t-shirts and there’s always loads of girls at your shows, what is it about your band that attracts women primarily?

Jimmy: This guy right here (laughs). That and the dancey type groove we have going on.

Joe: I think a lot of it has to do with how we are as people. People see that we just have fun when we play and when they see us off stage they see we’re just hanging out with everybody. We’re very approachable people having fun with everybody – drinking and partying. It attracts people to hang out with us because we want to hang out with everyone else as well.

Finally, if the world ends at the end of 2012, what’s the last thing you’re going to do?

Joe: I’m going to make a billion dollars then buy a spot on the spaceship to the next planet.

Jimmy: I’ll rob the richest man in the world. I’ll rob Jimmy.

Joe: He’ll go the illegal route. I’ll make my millions, then he’ll kill me for it.

 

Interview: Sam Carter and Tom Searle of Architects at Slam Dunk South Festival

 
By on Friday, 8th June 2012 at 11:00 am
 

At this year’s Slam Dunk South Festival I caught up with Sam Carter and Tom Searle from the Brighton bruisers Architects for a quick talk about guest vocalists, the departure of guitarist Tim Hillier-Brook and tripping on DMT.

You played Slam Dunk North yesterday, how was that for you?

Sam: We really enjoyed it. Really fun.

Tom: Like we’ve been saying to everyone – we get here at 10.30 in the morning to sound check, so it’s a long day of keeping your energy levels up before you go on stage for an hour. But the crowd was amazing and that’s what’s important.

How does it feel headlining the second stage?

Tom: It’s really nerve-wracking, I’d rather be lower down. I don’t like the pressure of watching all these bands getting great reactions all day, so you feel the need to justify your position on the bill. I’d rather go on with low expectations. I’m not complaining because it’s awesome, it’s just a bit nerve-wracking for me.

It’s justified, though, you have become much more popular over the past year. What do you think the catalyst was for that?

Tom: Just good songwriting (laughs). We’ve never really had any gimmicks, none of us are poster boys, we’re normal people – there’s nothing particularly flashy or fancy about us. We just write music and put out quite a lot of music, and I think that’s it. There isn’t really a trick for us.

I’ve spoken to bands recently who’ve said there’s a heavy resurgence occurring in music, would you that’s true?

Tom: I wouldn’t know in England because when we first started out touring there was a much bigger community of British bands. If there was a festival like this there would have been five or six heavy bands on it from England, but today there’s only two – us and While She Sleeps. The rest of the bill is American and Canadian, so I’m not sure to be honest. It comes and goes, though. In 2 years’ time there might be loads, then 2 years later there might be none.

Your new album ‘Daybreaker’ is out tomorrow [out now on Century Media], can you tell us a bit about it?

Sam:  There’s some tracks on it. There’s some heavy songs, melodic songs… We worked really hard on it and we put a lot of time into it. I just can’t wait for it to come out and be able to play a bunch of them live and tour the record.

Have you got a tour coming up to support it?

Sam: No. (laughs)

Tom: As of August we’re going to do all the touring everywhere in the world that will take us. But I understand the idea of going straight out on tour as soon as you release a record to support it, but it’s cool to give it a few months for people to listen to it, then we can go out and everyone knows all the songs. That’s more fun.

Your album also features Oli Sykes (Bring Me the Horizon) and Jon Green (Deez Nuts), how did you get those guys on board?

Sam: It features Drew from Stray from the Path as well. We toured with Jon in America and we just loved the dude so much he had to be on the record.

Tom: He has so much much enthusiasm about our band and is so supportive. And we all love the guy.

Sam: We were listening to ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ as a demo that had the heavy bit at the end, and I went outside with Jon afterwards and said, “your voice would be sick on the end of that”, and the whole tour he kept saying, “you won’t let me do it, you won’t let me do it,” and then his part is just so heavy. And Oli, we’ve known him for years and I sang on [Bring Me the Horizon album] ‘Suicide Season’, and we were trying to find a record to get him on and this was the right one. Drew as well we’ve known for years, he’s one of my favourite vocalists so to get him on the record is amazing.

Tom: It’s cool to be able to collaborate with friends who you have mutual respect for.

Is there anyone you’d want to collaborate with?

Tom: We’ve had Andrew from Comeback Kid, Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan, then these guys on this record. But I don’t know, there isn’t anyone that I’m like “god, I’d love to have them on this record”. I’d say someone like Chino Moreno from Deftones, but all the people that have sung with us support our band and have an active interest in the music we write, so if we got someone who didn’t have a clue who we are it would miss the point.

Sam: One of my favourite singers at the minute is James from Deaf Havana. I think if we were going to get anyone else it would be him – he’s so talented. He’s like Jon, we all love him as a dude.

‘Daybreaker’ is the last record to feature Tim, how’s it been since his departure?

Tom: We haven’t done an awful lot since. We had a practice yesterday with Josh who’s filling in and he nailed it so that was easy. We’re just getting on with it, you know? It’s always difficult when someone leaves a band they’ve been in for so long, but it’s not the end of the world. We all live in the south coast round Brighton, but he left a while ago to live in London, so even when he was still in the band we didn’t see him much when we weren’t on tour. When we go home we all go our separate ways a lot of the time anyway, but he’s doing a new band and I understand it’s going quite well.

You released ‘Devil’s Island’ as a single last year and the video features footage from the London riots, what’s your opinion of the social situation a year on?

Tom: Obviously there’s no riots going on but that doesn’t mean the underlying causes aren’t still there. I think as long as we have any sort of capitalist system in any society there’s going to be inequality. The people at the bottom who have fallen off the cut who haven’t got lucky or haven’t been given the opportunities that other people might have received, I think it can come down to things like race, sadly. So the problems are still there they will probably not be addressed. Things aren’t great.

Did you hear we came second to last in Eurovision yesterday?

Tom: Does that mean we’re the second worst country at making shit music? So we’re the second best at making good music? I’d like to think that might work.

But would you guys ever enter Eurovision?

Sam: No.

Tom: Not even as a joke. I have zero interest in all of that.

Finally, have you heard the world is ending at the end of the year?

Tom: I’ve heard about it yeah, but they’ve found out that the Mayan calendar is wrong and it started at a different point, so the year 2012 isn’t this year 2012.

If the world did end, what would be the last thing you’d do?

Tom: Probably just get together with loved ones and have a drink or something.

Sam: Have a drink, probably have a few cigarettes – it’s not going to make any difference is it? If there’s any drugs around probably take a load of them as well.

Tom: I’d probably try to find some DMT. Just seriously, seriously trip on DMT.

Sam: Then when the world actually ends you’d be tripping so hard.

Tom: When you die, DMT is naturally released in your brain so it’s a double dose. That’s how I’d do it.

Sam: The world’s ended, but you’re still tripping out.

‘Daybreaker’ is out now on Century Media records.

 
 
 

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