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SXSW 2013: Final Impressions

 
By on Friday, 5th April 2013 at 1:00 pm
 

So after spending a full week in Austin for SXSW 2013, I thought it would be nice to do a summary post to reflect on the experience the second time around…

My SXSW by the numbers:
I saw 41 different bands/acts in total, some multiple times. The bands I saw the most were the Crookes and Kodaline, both 3 times.

I managed an average of 5 hours of sleep per night. Not really all that bad. I learned from last year to make sure I got as much rest as possible.

I saw shows at 8 venues that I’d not previously stepped foot in.

I rode a pedicab 3 times (versus zero times in 2012) and all the drivers were amazing. Note to all attendees: pay these people a little bit more – they’re hiking you up hills and over long distances while sweating their arses off in the Austin heat. A special mention goes out to Andrew who drove me all the way home Thursday night after I’d just about given up on finding a taxi and was ready to cry. He was a total sweetheart!

Unforgettable (good) moments of the week:
Learning that David Baldwin of the Dig is affectionately nicknamed “Baldy”, but it has nothing to do with the status of his hair follicles.

Accidentally running into Rhydian Dafydd of the Joy Formidable at a sushi bar and having lunch together to talk about the industry and such. I found out he’s a Dutch Uncles fan!

Finding out Adam Kane of Cave Painting and Dan Croll were schoolmates in this interview.

Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers tried to hide his beer between his legs so the Austin police wouldn’t confiscate it during our interview Wednesday afternoon outside Latitude 30. Unfortunately, despite his great pains, it didn’t work.

Getting a genuine Stetson trilby gratis Thursday afternoon at Blackheart for knowing about British bands playing at SXSW. About time I got rewarded for all these random things I have in my brain…

Finding a kindred cider mate in Kris Harris of Story Books during our interview there.

Getting a ride back into the centre of town on the Joy Formidable‘s bus after watching them gig at the Fender stage and do an autograph session at Waterloo Records (photo at top).

Being recognised by Kodaline‘s tour manager at the Hype Hotel Thursday night before they played for the last time at SXSW. (Honourable mention: getting singled out and pointed by guitarist Lynval Golding of the Specials at the same showcase.)

Unforgettable (bad) moments of the week:
Being treated like cattle outside Stubb’s Tuesday night. I’m not likely to return.

Dropping my jumper by accident at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room Wednesday night after already resituating myself at its rooftop, then getting forced by security to go all the way up, down and around to retrieve it. Lucky I don’t have a walking impediment.

A crazy drunk bloke tried to pick me up on Cesar Chavez Street when I was trying to hail a taxi Thursday night. He said he was going to follow me home. I eventually somehow lost him when we ran into a group of people and I ran. It was terrifying at the time, but now I can laugh about it.

Getting pushed and shoved by kids at the HGTV / Paste showcase at the Stage on Sixth. We know you’re excited for the Zombies. But can you be a little less annoying?

Best quotes of the week:
“Thanks for interviewing us. You’re probably the prettiest person to ever interview us. We usually get interviewed by ugly dudes.” – Emile Mosseri of the Dig after this interview by the river outside Stubb’s. They said they want to start a new side project called “Poppa Squat”. I don’t know if they were joking.

“I like to confuse people!” – Tim Wheeler to me after his solo performance at Monday night’s NI@SXSW showcase (11th March 2013)

“It’s Dan from Bastille, everyone! Cheers mate for coming out.” – Steve Garrigan of Kodaline to Dan and the punters at Wednesday night’s Communion showcase at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop

“Ahh, I see you’ve met the infamous Mary!” – Angela Dorgan of Music from Ireland, warning Girls Names about me outside B.D. Riley’s on Friday morning after our interview (as if this editor needs to come with a warning!)

“We have a very serious question for you, Mary. Why isn’t Washington, DC in Washington state?” – Tom Dakin of the Crookes on behalf of his band, after they played their British Music Embassy / Kilimajaro / PRS for Music slot at Latitude 30 on Friday night (if you were wondering, I set them straight with a story that involved both coasts of our country and the relative locations of myself and my brother, though I’m not sure how well that will stick in their minds.)

“Mary, Mary. You’ve been disowned!” / “But…a 5-string. You can play Korn on that guitar!” – George Waite / Tom Dakin of the Crookes to me the same night, after, perhaps a little too proudly, I showed off a picture of my 5-string ESP. We did some rechristening of guitars in Austin and he’s still yet to provide me a new name for mine.

“Do you fancy a bit of pole dancing later, Kris?” – Andrew Parry of Story Books to bandmate Kris Harris, in reference to and gesturing to Kitty Clementine‘s writhing at the Captiva showcase Saturday afternoon

And with that…that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. See you next year, Austin!

 

SXSW 2013: Day 4 afternoon – Music from Ireland breakfast, then a run around Sixth Street for bands new(ish) and old – 15th March 2013

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd April 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Friday afternoon I spent hanging around on Sixth Street, which is probably the best advice I could give anyone attending SXSW for the first time. Four days in and you’re tired. You’re rough from all the alcohol you’ve been drinking, and most likely, your body is screaming because it hasn’t gotten enough sleep. This year I made a pledge to myself to sleep as much as possible, which worked mostly, except I missed out on the Irish breakfast at Irish pub B.D. Riley’s. I had it last year and it was so good, so next year I am setting my alarm clock earlier! I ain’t missing it in 2014.

However, not was all lost. Music from Ireland puts on an all-day, no cover day showcase at the pub and it’s just a good excuse as any to have a delicious, cool pint of cider (there is a god, thank you Ireland!), sit down, relax and take in some amazing Irish music. I missed The Mighty Stef but the next band up were duo The Lost Brothers, who I’d been treated to at the NI@SXSW showcase on Monday night. Could it just be the confines of an Irish pub, but doesn’t every Irish band sound even better in such a place? I though the Lost Brothers, who already sounded great at Latitude 30, dazzled while framed by the Austin sun. Like last year when I spied Squarehead, General Fiasco and Cashier No. 9 at B.D. Riley’s, the shutters of the place were open, letting natural light in, passerby ducking their heads in to see what was going on.

Declan ORourke Music from Ireland live

Dubliner Declan O’Rourke and his band were next. Cheryl and I have a running joke that if it’s a singer/songwriter, I will run screaming from him/her and she will take to him/her like a duck to water. I really tried to absorb, trying to channel Cheryl and appreciate his music. Unfortunately, it sounded schmaltzy, in a kind of Irish Julio Iglesias fashion (listen to his track ‘Galileo’ on Spotify). His style struck me too precious for my liking.

I had an idea on where I wanted to go next, but I thought, hmm, let me walk around the bar once and see if I can find any Irish bands partaking in the free breakfast and maybe they will want to do an interview? Girls Names‘ American PR told me they would be difficult to find except at their gigs, but somehow providence stepped in and tucked in the back were Cathal, Claire and Philip from the band, and as I rightly suspected, having breakfast. I apologised for butting in during their brekky, asking them if they’d be willing to have a chat with me. They agreed and I left them to their breakfast, telling them to find me later. The interview went well and you can hear it here. Rather hilariously, the lovely Angela Dorgan who organises the Music from Ireland showcases took our picture, quipping, “ahhh…I see you’ve met the infamous Mary!” Since when have I been infamous? Chuckle.

Before the Girls Names interview, I was able to catch one final band at the Music from Ireland afternoon showcase. The band Kool Thing is made up of Irish and Australian members, but they are based in Berlin. This might explain their affinity to electronics, and I can’t be the only person who was surprised to hear electronic buzzing from the Irish showcase in early afternoon. I think if they’d been presented me a year or so ago, I might have had a different reaction, but I can feel myself moving away from oversynthesised music. They sound like a darker School of Seven Bells or Hundred in the Hands to me.

Royal Teeth Sonicbids live

And then it was off to catch a band that I had criminally somehow missed at too many festivals last year. I made my way back to Maggie Mae’s before getting entirely confused by their staff, who didn’t know who was playing which stage. Real helpful. So this is how completely by accident I saw Royal Teeth from New Orleans on the rooftop. Their sound is of the sunny variety that mixes Two Door Cinema Club optimism with female/male vocals of Of Monsters and Men. In short, they’re tailor made for MTV. Not really my cup of tea either, but they were having a lot of fun, and this is exactly the sort of music shines in sunny Austin, even if it’s not entirely memorable.

Tango in the Attic Sonicbids live

So after I realised I was in the wrong place – the American accents were a dead giveaway! – I ran back downstairs to the other stage in Maggie Mae’s for who I was really there to see, Glenrothes, Scotland’s Tango in the Attic. I suspect if they were based in New York a couple years ago, they might have beaten Vampire Weekend in the jaunty, happy guitars race.

I saw a synth and thought, oh dear, not plinky plonky notes again (this seemed to be a running theme of nearly every band I saw at SXSW this). I saw guitars, but I wasn’t expecting the rocking out I witnessed. Wow! Singer Jordan Craig has that slacker / devil my care kind of drawl, which is not something I’d expect from the Scottish, but it works brilliantly. It cemented in my mind that this is a band that could be so much bigger…if they were on my side of the pond. While their music ‘sounds’ just as happy as Royal Teeth’s, I’d rather dance to Tango in the Attic, with catchier rhythms, winsome lyrics and even an occasional horn.

There was one band that my eyes fixated on the first list of SXSW bands were announced in autumn 2012. Figuring I had a better shot seeing them at a daytime showcase than at a night one like Stubb’s (yeah, what a joke) I planned the first half my afternoon around them and the HGTV and Paste showcase at the Stage on Sixth. I figured it would be better to arrive early, stake a spot and not be disappointed. This meant that I arrived just as Canadian act City and Colour just ended, so I didn’t really get a feel for Dallas Green except that he has a huge fanbase and screaming fans.

Ron Sexsmith HGTV Paste live

I chilled out and waited for the next act up, another Canadian, Ron Sexsmith. Singer/songwriter. Oh dear. Where is Cheryl when you need her? I did talk beforehand with a very excited Australian woman who said, “I’m a huge fan of Ron’s, he’s the main reason I came out to SXSW”. Well, with a ringing endorsement like that, I couldn’t just well leave, could I? He was wearing a flowery shirt that Stuart Maconie would covet, so that was in his favour as well. The highlight of his set was ‘Me, Myself and Wine’, which accurately summed up the SXSW experience: watching bands gig while relaxing with your favourite tipple. He explained it as an ode to his favourite hobby, listening to albums while drinking wine. Well, different strokes for different folks, right?

The Zombies HGTV Paste live 2

If you haven’t figured it out already, the band that I had been waiting for were the Zombies. I was freaking out madly as their members were mingling in the audience before their set. I was just too nervous to approach any of them; I doubted they remembered the interview two of them had with Braden in London a couple years ago. Sadly, this excitement was misplaced, I was entirely underwhelmed by the Zombies’ set. Don’t get me wrong, they are hugely important in the British music lexicon and so many bands were influenced by them years after they hit it big and made it out of St. Albans.

The Zombies HGTV Paste live

Rather confusingly, as later when I talked to other people who had seen the same set or seen them elsewhere such as Stubb’s that night, and their reaction was entirely different: I heard how “mind-blowing” and “amazing” they were. Did we all watch the same exact band? I realise they are getting on and they’re not going t be as animated as 20-somethings but I couldn’t get into it. (It also did not help that since it was an all-ages venue,I was surrounded by young kids who strangely were hyper about seeing the Zombies and they were pushy. I’d gotten there early, so I didn’t appreciate getting pushed around.) Finally, by the time they rolled out ‘Time of the Season’ out on a gurney, I decided to make a quick escape. Well, as quickly as I could. While in hindsight I suppose I can now say, “yes, I’ve seen the Zombies”, it was a wasted opportunity to see a couple of people I had not seen in nearly a year.

The Crookes Pledgemusic SXSW live

SXSW or no SXSW, I don’t think I’ve ever run out of a venue so fast like a crazy person and to another one. I’m sure I amused some people. Luckily I didn’t have to go far to the Blind Pig, where PledgeMusic was hosting an afternoon of free music and free booze. Always a winning combination, right? I went to the upstairs area, wended my way through the crowd and arrived at the stage just as the Crookes were hitting their stride. For the second time that afternoon, a pronouncement was made about my presence. I don’t think he meant to do it this way, but singer/bassist George Waite, pleased that I had come to see them, said into his microphone and to everyone there, “hell-o Mary!” I laughed to myself. Oh great, so everyone knows who I am now, huh?

The Crookes Pledgemusic SXSW live 2

This was the first time I had the opportunity to see the Crookes since ‘Hold Fast’, their second album and the one I’d anointed with my Best Album of 2012 honour at the end of last year, had been released, and I was raring to see them perform the songs that had become so important in my emotional life in the prior 8 months. I won’t wax too philosophical about them in this post, as I saw them two more times in Austin before all was said and done. But I will say at this juncture that there is something just so amazing watching an English band perform in the sunshine, as they’re clearly having the time of their young lives and soaking up this once in a lifetime experience. Though young, the Crookes are seasoned performers and are just bursting with confidence with every banged chord of a guitar and every frantic drum pattern by drummer Russell Bates.

The Crookes Pledgemusic SXSW live 3

It has been 3 years since they’d been in Austin and even though I was not there for their first time, I am positive that this visit, armed now with two full albums and tons of swagger, went down better the first. I mean, I had met local folks from Austin and Dallas who expressively came out to as many of their five shows that week as they could; we kept running into each other and as an American music lover, my heart melted that so many Americans were coming out to see this band that I had first heard being played on Steve Lamacq’s radio programme and whose sound I had fallen in love with years ago. There was no question what song would end the set. It would have to be *that* song: ‘Backstreet Lovers’. Sounding as fresh as the day Lammo chose to spin it on Radio1, they absolutely killed it. Cue the mad dash of new fans towards the band for photos and autographs, along with my mind silently saying to the crowd, “see? I told you so!”

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013: Rock, punk and metal UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 15th January 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2013 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change.

Carrying on with the genre section of the exclusive TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013 to continue through January each Tuesday, today we’re bringing you the UK bands slated to perform at this year’s SXSW that play rock, punk, metal and every combination in between. (Last week, we brought you the pop and pop hybrid acts list, which you can catch up on here.) Each part of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013 is a handy resource if you’re wondering which acts to catch at this year’s marathon week of showcases, parties and secret shows. But I hope it’ll also introduce you to the solo artists and bands you haven’t heard of, because that’s the most exciting thing about SXSW: at any one moment, you could walk into a bar, a club, a hotel, a warehouse, wherever…and you might just discover the next big thing in music.

What do all these acts in the rock / punk / metal genre list have in common besides being from Britain? Powerful guitars, punishing bass and drums and in most cases, vocals worthy of idolatry. How they achieve this differs from act to act, as you will read and see/hear below.

Belligerence (added 10/01/13) – heavy metal from Portsmouth. I’m finding it hard to find information on them, as there’s another band – also metal – from Prague with the same name…

File next to: Biohazard, Clutch, Pantera

The Blackout – Welsh post-hardcore band who have been soldiering on since their formation in 2003. Right, that means they’ve been around a decade. How many other bands, no matter what the genre, still exist after 10 years? They must be doing something right. Their next album, ‘Start the Party’, is scheduled to be out on the 21st of January 2013. We won’t post the name of their sweary big hit, but John mentions it in his day 2 roundup of Leeds Fest 2011.

Brutality Will Prevail – This Cardiff hardcore band had been signed previously to Alex Fitzgerald’s Holy Roar label and are now with Purgatory Records (sensing a theme here?), who this year released their latest album, ‘Scatter the Ashes’. Expect something punishing.

Touring with: Cancer Bats and Empress in March 2013 (maybe now they won’t appear at some of the dates on this previous organised tour, since the middle of it is smack dab during SXSW).

China Rats – Leeds lad rock. Legend has it that thanks to the tour bus of Bat for Lashes breaking down on the way to this year’s Benicassim, the band found themselves headlining the Valencia festival. Is ‘(At Least Those) Kids are Getting Fed’ a commentary on the North East, or a wider problem across Britain?

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

The Crookes – The Crookes made their SXSW debut in 2011 and when I finally met them in Brighton in May 2012, they were eager to return, so I’m really pleased for them getting another SXSW nod. This time, they’ll have the good time sounds of ‘Hold Fast’ (my top album of 2012) under their belts and I’m sure there will be a gaggle of new American fans of theirs (mostly female?) following their every move. I’ll be catching them as many times as I can, so do come and say hello.

Seeing that I’ve been a fan of theirs since the ‘Dreams of Another Day’ EP in 2010, there is a boatload of Crookes coverage you can read on TGTF, starting here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TppUoY4zpFQ[/youtube]

Crowns – Coming off of their December tour raising awareness of UK homelessness, Cornwall’s Crowns will bring their fun rock ‘n’ roll sound to Austin. I missed their show at the Cornwall Pasty Company at last year’s Great Escape (really kicking myself over this…I mean, come on, that would have been the ultimate party conversation starter, right?) but I’m determined to catch them on American soil.

Read all of our previous Crowns coverage here.

The Enemy – my guess is that the Enemy are to be the younger equivalent of and will act like Kaiser Chiefs at last year’s SXSW: pulling in a good number of fans for their perfectly good but possibly unextraordinary sets in a post-Oasis breakup world. Since they’ve been around for a while (3 albums’ worth) in the UK, they’re not likely to be high on the average UK attendees’ must-see list, but I’ve never seen them before, so if they show up at Stubb’s, I might head on over.

Read our previous Enemy coverage here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lupg5BHzH34[/youtube]

Evans the Death – This band already has a Rolling Stone description (huh?): “This London band mixes post–Smiths jangle and early–grunge sludge, as Katherine Whitaker explores varying shades of bad romance. Her raw emotion blends with slashing, whirling guitars to inject paralysis with weird power.” When you see they’ve been signed to Slumberland Records here in America (‘Allo Darlin’ and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart‘s American home), it all seems to make sense…

Sounds like: the Libertines, if they had a female out in front

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX8VcqY8qts[/youtube]

Gallops – why do I feel the need to mention Mogwai every time I hear a proggy band? Wrexham group Gallops aren’t nearly hard enough to warrant the comparison, although with titles like ‘Astaroth’ and ‘Hongliday’ their Blood and Biscuits’ debut ‘ ‘Yours Sincerely, Dr. Hardcore’, you’d not be putting experimental band in the pop box anyhow. (Something interesting I found on the band’s Tumblr: the linked to the Kitsune Maison 11 compilation – didn’t see that coming at all.)

Gallows – they’re punks. They deliver punishing sets at festivals, such as at 2000 Trees last year. And Frank Carter left them in 2011 to start Pure Love. That’s all you really need to know, right?

Hawk Eyes – punishing hard rock from Leeds. Their 2012 album ‘Ideas’ got top marks from Kerrang! and Artrocker so you know where this is going…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1szIsuhqcUc[/youtube]

Nik Turner’s Hawkwind – the current incarnation of history’s first space rock groups.

Heaven’s Basement (added 10/01/13) – a hard rock band who has been soldiering on for quite a while (since 2008) and are releasing their debut album, ‘Filthy Empires’, this year. They’ve supported big names like Bon Jovi and Papa Roach, so is this an indicator of their hard rock prowess? We’ll see at this year’s event.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP1u79wSdDY[/youtube]

The Joy Formidable – what can we say about Welsh rock band Joy Formidable that hasn’t already been said? When you’ve been hand-picked by Dave Grohl as the man’s own favourite band right now, calling them “a killer live band”, ’nuff said really, yeah? The other facts that they are truly some of the loveliest people we have met and are always so happy about our coverage of them? That’s just icing on the cake. I’ve seen them several times now but the only time I’ve seen them at SXSW was on a live stream in 2011, which doesn’t really count, so I’m making it a point to catch them this time around.

Read all our previous coverage of the Joy Formidable here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_t4s-HX3z0[/youtube]

Kassidy – some have called them the Scottish Kings of Leon, but that’s just lazy journalism. We’ve been following the folky rock hybrid band since their early EPs in 2010, and trust us, they’re way better than the Followills.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMiBIHqeoa4[/youtube]

Read our previous coverage of Kassidy here.

Kill It Kid – wow, I don’t have to write a piece on them, because they placed #10 on our 10 for 2013 list and Martin’s already done for me. Revivalist blues from Bath.

Klaxons – they’ve been around a while. They won a Mercury Prize in 2007 for ‘Myths of the New Future’. Their last album ‘Surfing the Void’ released in 2010 “>has a cat in an astronaut suit on the cover. Sorry, I’m having trouble sounding knowledgeable about Klaxons because I don’t really like them all that much.

Read our previous coverage on Klaxons here.

Little Barrie – ‘powerhouse’ is a word that seems to be following this Nottingham formed, London transplanted trio. But if you’re going to call Little Barrie a powerhouse trio, then surely you mean to compare to the greats of rock ‘n’ roll.

Sounds like: a more radio-polished Cream or at least a band that came out swinging in the Sixties, not in the Noughties

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/25333478[/vimeo]

LostAlone – Derby band who have been described as “breathtaking Queen-style harmonies and classic metal bite” and compared to Muse. How is it possible that we’ve never heard about them, then?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47rV458G-f4[/youtube]

New Ivory – according to MTV Iggy, these guys from London are the new knights of British indie rock. I am struggling to find a comparison, except maybe they sound like early Arctic Monkeys or Two Door Cinema Club, but not as catchy? (Yeah, I know. Damning with faint praise, aren’t I? Sorry.) Steve Aoki is a fan, having signed them to his Dim Mak Records. I dunno. Maybe they’ll actually sound better in person at SXSW.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHEJaMTQJv8[/youtube]

Orange Goblin (added 10/01/13) – formerly known as Our Haunted Kingdom, on first glance you have to wonder if the new name was for a cuddlier image. So imagine my surprise that this is a heavy metal band! Having put out their first album in 1997, they’re definitely the granddaddies of the rock/metal/punk group, but having changed their sound from stoner/doom to their current more metal sound proves that they aren’t willing to stand in one place musically. A special live album for their devoted, ‘A Eulogy for the Fans’, will be released in March.

Palma Violets – I’ve refrained about writing about Palma Violets from Lambeth, South London, as what I’ve heard from them makes me think of The Vaccines, who came out of an NME promotional campaign firestorm and their #3 placing on the BBC Sound of 2011 poll with loads of fans clamouring to see them at major festivals. It’s 2013 now and look what’s happened: Palma Violets are on the BBC Sound of 2013 longlist. Overhyped band leads to foregone conclusion…appearing as a support act to headliners Django Django on the 2013 NME Awards tour next month sounds like an NME mistake then…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poFXWUTEs1k[/youtube]

PAWS – Scottish three-piece banging out tunes in a garage-y, lo-fi style. It should come as no surprise that they have a strong DIY aesthetic, as they’re great fans of bands like Dinosaur Jr and the Pixies, even having a song called ‘Kim Deal’ in their arsenal.

Sounds like: the Cribs or Peace, if they were from far north of the border.

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

Peace – We won’t waste your time here, since the band have already been tipped on the BBC Sound of 2013 poll. Read our previous Peace coverage, including their 10 for 2013 profile (they placed #5 on this last readers’ poll), here.

Peers – 6music’s Tom Robinson was an early supporter of this Reading band in 2010, the year the young band, then all under the age of 18, played the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds. The unsigned band cite Bombay Bicycle Club as a major influence, and if you squeeze your eyes real tight, you can hear Jack Steadman’s impact on singer Matt Thompson’s vocals.

Savages – dissonant post-punk via an unusual package – four women from London. Is it their anti-establishment stance that attracted the BBC Sound of 2013 tipsters? We’ll never know for sure but I guess imitating Patti Smith and looking sullen are the highest form of flattery? They could have at least smiled for the photos on their Facebook…

Sounds like: trying too hard to be a 21st century Siouxsie and the Banshees

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y-cVzbBBQ8[/youtube]

Sharks – usually punk is associated with a lo-fi, scuzzy sound, but this band from Leamington Spa sound remarkably polished, with hybrid punk/pop songs that could have easily slotted in with the music I listened here in America in high school.

Sound like: a grown up Blink-182, or Green Day when they weren’t so political and were still fun

Tall Ships – math rock meets indie rock in an epic way via three high-spirited lads from Brighton. John adored their 2012 opus ‘Everything Touching’ and for a Foals loving nation, it’s a wonder they aren’t bigger in the UK. Foals? Who are they?

Read our previous coverage on Tall Ships here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JYt3eYDQY0[/youtube]

Tango in the Attic – Scottish band from Glenrothes having Two Door Cinema Club-type guitars with reverb.

File next to: Smith Westerns

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke9eHi6Ze_A[/youtube]

Throne – there’s not a lot known about this London band, except that they’re known to ‘level rooms’ with their bad boy riffage when they appear in the Capital. You have been warned.

TOY (added 10/01/13) – psychedelic rock from a band made up of some members for the group Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong. I don’t feel like it’s really necessary to write about them, considering nearly every friend of mine rates them quite highly. Not really my thing, but I’m pretty sure they will do well in Austin.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcQ2nXDvWDY[/youtube]

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls (added 10/01/13) – I nearly put Frank Turner’s band in the singer/songwriter category, but since his appearances at this year’s SXSW will be louder and more raucous than his solo turn last year at the Xtra Mile Recordings showcase, in the end there was no contest.

We’ve written quite about the man on TGTF, and you can read all of that through here.

Virals – vehicle for Worcester’s Shaun Hencher, who with his live band have most recently supported #5 10 for 2013 band Peace in the UK. Now Hencher’s looking to make a big splash at their American live debut at SXSW.

Sounds like: a cross between Male Bonding, Two Wounded Birds (RIP) and the Vaccines. Get yer sunnies out!

The Virginmarys – Macclesfield will soon be known for more than Ian Curtis, if this trio have anything to say about it. Their sound? Hard rocking, arse-kicking tunes.

File next to: Kasabian, Biffy Clyro

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8ehThdbXJs[/youtube]

Wet Nuns – even with quite possibly one of the silliest names for a band ever, Sheffield duo Wet Nuns had a spectacular 2012, getting attention not only for their silly name but their punk crossed with blues schizophrenic sound.

Sounds like: the evil child borne from Band of Skulls and the Black Keys

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAe5OFCuLxY[/youtube]

While She Sleeps – is heavy metal more your thing? Then I suppose you should look to Sheffield and a band like While She Sleeps for your jollies. Luke caught them last summer at day 2 of Slam Dunk South.

Young Guns – this band has been around for quite a while, but it wasn’t until summer 2012 that they had an American record deal. Radio-friendly, not too hard rock sound made by youngish, good-looking boys in leather: in short, an American label signing coup.

Read all our previous coverage of Young Guns here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk3vjIDuy9w[/youtube]

The Zombies – “What’s your name? / Who’s your daddy? / Is he rich like me?” All kidding aside, the Zombies have been around for over 50 years. Fifty effin’ years. They called themselves the Zombies before it was hip to like zombies. Though they’re down to only two original members – Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent – contrary to popular belief, it was they, not Friendly Fires, who put St. Albans on the musical map.

Read Braden’s interview with Colin and Rod from 2 years ago here.

Electronic bands and DJs are up next week. So catch us next Tuesday for the third chapter of the genre section of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013!

 

Interview: Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent of the Zombies

 
By on Monday, 23rd May 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

“You’ve just got to live in that moment in time. Everything we’ve ever done has led us to this point here talking to you,” explains Rod Argent. It’s not a bad point to have come to. TGTF is joined by Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone of iconic St. Albans rock band the Zombies in the top floor restaurant and bar of a central London hotel.

Sat, relaxedly sipping from their porcelain tea cups, it’s only Rod’s ever flamboyant hairdo and leather jacket that really notes the duo as rock stars, past and present. It’s their undeniable graces and passion for their art that demonstrates their credentials far better than an image might. The pair spend most of their time both reflecting and talking about their current plans, all in a really rather cheerful manner. Of course, they have plenty reason to be in good spirits. “It took us really by surprise,” recalls Colin, “it suddenly dawned on me that our first rehearsal was in 1961, which was 50 years ago”.
“And we’d been talking about making a new album anyway, and this was too good an opportunity to miss doing,” adds Rod.

This happy coincidence will see the Zombies play to thousands of people across the world, starting in May and going on through the year. With a UK tour planned for May, the band are ready to get jet-setting. “We finish off our UK tour at Shepherds Bush Empire so I’m sure that will be a special party, especially as two of the original band will be joining us on stage for some of that.” Colin seems genuinely excited about the prospect this, as does Rod. “We start in Greece at the beginning of May, then there’s the UK tour. Over to Japan, America, Europe and back to the UK for November.” Plenty of air miles for the travelling six-piece.

Now, TGTF doesn’t mean to poke at age restraint, but when you look at a recent Bob Dylan tour, you see something not too short of monotony and the downfall of one of music’s great minds. Many are, possibly rightfully so, suggesting that the man should retire into his wealth and leave a legacy that won’t trail off. The Zombies, however, show no signs of slowing of late. Having all but split in 1968, followed by a series smaller shows in the Nineties, they got back together in late 2000 for “what was originally only meant to be six concerts. We both enjoyed it so much, and had such an incredible response from the crowd that we simply thought ‘Why not keep going?’ and so we did. It’s turned into 11 years of being a touring band. It’s been a huge surprise!”

Their split in the ’60s, they both explain, was “nothing to do with acrimony, but simply a combination of circumstances. We all retained respect and friendship for each other”. Today’s incarnation of the band appears to be a group formed through mutual musical respect as both Colin and Rod have worked on and even produced each other’s solo works through the years – something maybe today’s bands can learn. It must be hoped that upon Kele Okereke and company’s return from solo projects that Bloc Party will retain their personal harmonies as well as the Zombies appear to be doing.

On stage, the Zombies remain the melody makers, and it seems that as long as they keep their energy, the crowds will too, especially as the new generation of Zombies fans has come through.  “We played a show in France last year in a rammed club to an average age of about 25,” Rod tells me. “I came off stage and turned to Colin and said ‘Do you realise we’ve played a very similar set to one we played 40 years ago, to the same aged audience?’ I can’t differentiate the difference on stage from when I was 18. It’s such a privilege and huge amount of energy coming from the audience.”

Revitalised by this new found live energy not present since many of the new crowds’ parents were coming to Zombies shows, you’d be forgiven for thinking they could be a set of mad, partying, fighting, boozing rock stars. “Don’t believe the rumours,” Rod jokes, “before a show, Colin might have one or two drinks and become quite chatty. I always just want to fall asleep! It must be my nervous reaction”.

“In America recently, about half an hour before we went on stage, the promoter burst in to the backstage with about ten of his friends,” laughs Colin, “and I think he was expecting some sort of party or orgy or something. Three of us were reading, and the other three were asleep!”

Off stage then, it’s the quiet life for the band, but why the sudden change in audiences for the band? “I think one of the reasons so many young people are coming down to our shows is due to many contemporary artists saying kind things about us,” Rod suggests, “not that we don’t get older people at our shows, of course we do.”

Amongst those citing the Zombies as an influence are Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, who once told the BBC that ‘Odyssey and Oracle’, the Zombies most critically acclaimed album from 1968, is his favourite record of all time. He’s not the only one either.  Belle and Sebastian, OK Go and Dinosaur Jr. have all referenced and covered Zombies tracks over the years, keeping a fresh sound on their hits. Even the Vaccines’ Justin Young was recently quoted on saying that his favourite track of all time is a Zombies track (‘This Will Be Our Year’, to be precise).

On the Zombies’ playlists though, there’s not much in the way of new music though. “Personally, I don’t listen to nearly as many artists as I did when I was 18, because when you’re that age, it’s all around you. The young bands I’ve come across lately…” Rod pauses for thought: “The Killers and Kings of Leon. They’re the two that immediately come to mind.”

“I usually just revert to my old favourites actually. There’s a guy called Christian Phillips who’s the writer for a band called The Sonic Executive who’ve written a sublime album. But I mostly listen to the likes of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor,” adds Colin.

“My classics are usually just people like Ray Charles and the old blues singers. I’ve always thought the Beatles have wonderfully structured songs,” Rod mentions. “Oh, and I bought a Cream retrospective the other day too.” It’s hardly surprising really. Ask most people over the age of fifty to name some new artists they like and you probably wouldn’t get much further than Adele and Coldplay, not that TGTF isn’t fond of a bit of either.

So having come so far in the last 50 years, has all of this meant that the Zombies’ new album will sound different? “Lyrically, it’s about where we are now. ‘Breathe Out, Breathe In’, the lead single, is about a magical evening when my wife and I went out to this gorgeous pub near a lake and saw a band. The song’s about how it’s generally great to be alive in the moment. The trigger points are usually recent events,” Rod explains. “And ‘A Moment in Time’ (live video below) is based around a Laurie Lee book called As I Walked Out, which is one of my favourite books. We were travelling through many of the places he’d written about in the book, so that’s what that’s about”.

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

The similar format of going about recordings suits the band just fine but Rod and Colin had a strict regime when deciding how to go about the ten tracks on ‘Breathe Out, Breathe In’. “I had in my head a set brief. I wanted the songs to have a strong rhythmic feel and to be organic to the point of reflecting how we all play on stage. I think we can play almost everything on the album live. I also wanted to explore harmonies like we used to.

“Radio play is so important to bands, so I just wanted everything to be concise. If it had potential to be on radio, it had to be concise,” Colin cautiously mentions. “The structure was the most important, as it always has been,” Rod finishes.

Our time has been brief, yet the Zombies’ 50 years in music have made sure they’ve said everything and more. We exchange our goodbyes and TGTF’s time with the Sixties icons is over.

‘Breathe Out, Breathe In’, the new album from the Zombies, is available now.

 
 
 

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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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