TURBOWOLF PREPARE TO TOUR

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October 23rd || Leah Hamer

As the dawn of their tour rises, the beastly alternative four-piece, Turbowolf, prepare to unleash a hellish parade of psychedelic funk rock fusion onto the good people of Great Britain. Ahead of their gig at The Sugarmill, Stoke, on the 26th October, REBEL got chatting to their vocal/synth-lord Chris Georgiadis.

                After becoming acquainted with each other back in their birth-town of Bristol in 2008, Turbowolf set on a quest to spread their kaleidoscopic sound all over the world. So touring is a breeze for them now, nearly ten years on. Chris notes that being on the road gives you all of life’s wonders at the same time, ‘Enjoying each other’s company. Meeting people. Eating. Drinking. Laughing. Dancing. All the best things in life.’

                After sharing the road with huge names like Pulled Apart By Horses and Korn, this time round they’re spending it with their close pals, Vodun. ‘We’ve known Chantal and Zel since they were in a band called Invasion (who by the way were also fucking rad). That must be going back at least ten years.’

Also famed for their otherworldly performances, they could not be a better fit for Turbowolf. ‘We’re stoked that Vodun are with us for this run. They’re such an incredible band and a must see live. Total killers.’

A Turbowolf live performance is, in a word, unforgettable. With their chaotic energy and dare devilish fury, the requirement for the audience is fairly simple to Chris, ‘Go mental.’  

As the tour dates coincide with Halloween, with a date falling on Ol' Hallows Eve in London, it had to be asked as to whether anything ghoulish would be occurring on stage this time round. ‘Lianna [Lee-Davies, bassist] is spooky all year round. The rest of us will be doing our best to catch up.’ That has to sound pretty promising.

After the tour, the countdown to their new album will quickly commence, as their third record, The Free Life, is due for release in March next year. After dropping their lead single, of the same name, earlier this month, it’s ‘superb’ reaction has left the band itching to get the album out there. REBEL is told by Chris quite simply to expect, ‘Fucking awesome songs.’

As with their previous work, Turbowolf have based the album on a series of mind-blowing collaborations. ‘Seb from Death From Above is on a song called Cheap Magic, which is totally great. Mike from Royal Blood is on Domino, he kills it. Chantal from Vodun is all over the album. And Joe from Idles is on Capital X, plus he introduces the album. They’re all just friends and we dig their style so we asked if they wanted to do something and something did indeed happen. Many thanks to them. Rad people.’

So after all of this, if you think you still need some persuasion as to why you should buy a ticket for their tour immediately, REBEL asked Chris to sum up how their Sugarmill show will be in a mere three words: ‘Totally fucking alright.’ That’s good enough an answer for us.

Turbowolf perform live at The Sugarmill on Thursday 26th October with Vodun and YOUYESYOU. Tickets are still available from:

https://www.seetickets.com/event/turbowolf/the-sugarmill/1144325

 

Deep City Diver Debut Album Release

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October 15th || Leah Hamer

After forming back in 2015, the Stoke-Sydney lovechildren, Deep City Diver are ready to show the world who they are. Made up of an entirely independent project who remain unsigned, self-managed and ‘completely DIY’, the band have produced their self-titled debut album.

Guitars and guns blazing, the album begins with Easy Prey, with the striking vocals of Ryan Nicolussi greeting you with a warm and welcoming embrace. Contrary to standard indie structures, the band have produced a lengthy, calculated number with this opener, to showcase the intricacy and excitement of their guitar work.

Everyone Is Alone follows, offering another deeper dimension into the mind-set of the band. Brooding and thoughtful with reflective lyrics, it offers a mellower, melancholic tone to contrast against the blinding brightness of the first track. After comes As The Crow Flies, with a darker, grittier feel, set off by a simple repetitive chord structure. Progressive and experimental, it is intriguing to learn that this songs origins can be traced back to Ryan’s teenage years, although it fails to seem out of place. Oddly, despite the age of which it was written- it is one of the most mature and heartfelt tracks on the album.

Fourth track Living In The Hyphen is quiet and hazy, giving a forefront to the lyrical and vocal magic that this band so excel in. With a whirling background synth, the track is submerses you in a lethargic dream, until it gradually fades into silence. Down On Wreckyn Street, I’m Ruined picks up the pace once again- with a demanding drum beat waking you up from your contentment. Racing and alive, with quick guitar and an enthusiastic atmosphere, it shows yet another side to Deep City Diver.

Another World is a proud, spacey, glitter bopper, with sprinkles of eighties pop and moody alternative noughties qualities. Next comes Nothing Hurts with its catchy hook and clever lyrics, ‘I’m just a boy dressed up a as man’. Vocally it is reminiscent of a New Romantic sensibility, backed up by the soft synths and aloof melodies.

As the album nears its end, Honey Eater gives you that end of prom final song vibe. Hearty and loving, it is a strong point of the album for starry-eyed souls. Youth ends the album with a short burst of angelic wisdom. It perhaps sums up the album’s message and meaning most proficiently. In the words of Ryan, ‘For me the album is almost like a mixtape for my emerging adulthood. Because the songs were written over so many years, each one documents a very specific moment in time…The songs explore similar themes - love and loss, isolation and unity - the difference becomes how you deal with them as you grow older’. This comes across aptly throughout.

Engaging, moving and perceptive, Deep City Diver is a beautiful display of adolescence forging into the reality of adulthood and thus showcases the band as confident, understanding and wise young musicians.

You can catch Deep City Diver at The Underground on Friday 20th October.

Deep City Diver is available to download now digitally. Also a limited run vinyl was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign and will be available on Friday 20th October.

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We're No Heroes- Youth

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October 1st || Emily Jones

Do you ever get that urge to stick on a funky record, turn up the volume enough to feel the bass line thumping through the floor boards and dance like no one is watching? If the answer to that question isn't yes, you're definitely lying. Whether it be a once in a lifetime thing or a weekly occurrence, we've all got a secret record stash of whatever it is that gets us groovin' to help us dance our troubles away (even if we look more like drunk dads at a wedding than extras from Fame).

Luckily for us, Cardiff based trio We're No Heroes know just what we need to do exactly that and their brand-new single is ready and waiting to knock you sideways.

'Youth' is a funky feel-good single that not only perfectly introduces you to the band (if, like us, this is your first meeting), but it slots in amongst their previous releases with ease. Quite noticeably the band's biggest influence is disco pioneer and music legend Nile Rodgers, although 'Youth' is slightly less Saturday Night Fever and a little more indie groove.

The general feel of the track is derived from a straight drum beat coupled with a bubbling bass and clean guitar riff, that run over each other like mercury. All of this leads into the chorus, which you discover like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Complete with heavenly harmonies and hand claps (hand claps!), the chorus, made up of one line repeated twice, shimmies its way so far into your mind that you have no choice but to let it do its thing.

We're No Heroes know exactly what to do and when to do it in order to create irresistible music. Previous releases 'Voodoo' and 'Stay Weird', which wouldn't be out of place on a Duran Duran album, not only give proof of this, but they capture what it means to be in this band and the passion that pumps through their veins.

Listening to 'Youth' makes you want to get up and dance, no matter where you are and what you're doing. It makes you want to do something spontaneous, like go for a long drive with no destination in mind, or tell someone you love them. 'Youth' should come with a label: 100% satisfaction guaranteed. 

GIG REVIEW - Cassia @ The Exchange 25/8/17

Emily Jones

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The last time I saw Cassia, they were sat behind a merch table with a long line of adoring fans waiting to meet them. This was back in May at Gorilla in Manchester, after they’d played a show-stopping set supporting Leeds based four-piece Clay. But it seems that in those three months, a lot has happened in the land of Cassia.

All of it was written across their faces the moment that they stepped into The Exchange in Stoke: tired eyes but beaming smiles, bold enough to light up any room. And although it was a disappointing turn out for the band (in terms of crowd size), Cassia were on cloud nine.

The Lounge Act and Stu Whiston opened up the night, two contrasting bands with contrasting levels of experience. The Lounge Act were extremely tight, their version of The 1975’s ‘Sex’ was proof of that. As was the colourful spectrum of originals that were included in their set, that offered those that stood watching a diverse bunch of feelings and emotions. As tight and as entertaining as they were however, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of interaction with the audience that remained throughout. Maybe it’s part of the image they’re aspiring to have, but it’s important to remember that it’s not just the quality of live performance that leaves an audience talking.

Stu Whiston on the other hand was very vocal, his driving indie rock sound powering through the venue. Original tracks such as ‘Silver’, ‘There Was A Time’ and the anthemic finale that was ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Show’ that rose and then fell so effortlessly, were all huge talking points of the band’s set. Whiston had the crowd moving, even if his crowd were smaller than he really should have deserved, but such is the attitude towards “not local enough” headliners i.e. Cassia. Just as The Lounge Act did, Whiston and his band made it work and neither bands seemed particularly fazed by their dwindling crowd.

It was disappointing to see a band of Cassia’s size perform to a half empty venue, something I feel can only be blamed by the amount of local music supporters, who’re often too afraid to take a chance on a band they’ve never heard before. But with a busy weekend of performances at both Reading and Leeds festival ahead of them, Cassia were far from sharing my disappointment.

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They played, just as they had done at Gorilla to a room packed full of excitable teenagers, to an exceptional standard and it was quite clear to everyone present that this band are the next big thing. Their signature tropi-pop sound made it virtually impossible to stand still, with tracks such as ‘Moana’, ‘Get Up Tight’ and ‘Weekender’ gaining them new fans with every strum. Rob Ellis, Jacob Leff and Lou Cotterill were comfortable on stage, something that has naturally grown from their love of performing together. Leff in particular appeared to be in his own world and the band couldn’t help but bob up and down to the music they were making.

But that night was significant for the band in more ways than one. Not only was this the first time the Macclesfield based three-piece had performed in Stoke, it was also the release day of their brand new single ‘Sink’. Scroll through their Twitter account (@wearecassia) and you’ll find an overwhelming feeling of love and support for this new track and quite literally all of their exciting musical endeavours. ‘Sink’ is taken from their brand new EP ‘Movers & Shapers’ that will follow their 2016 self-titled three-track release. ‘Sink’ is a natural progression for the band and one that is evident in their live performances.

Cassia concluded the evening with ‘100 Times Over’, their most popular track to date. Ellis’s clean guitar, Cotterill’s smooth bass line and Leff’s caribbean inspired drum beat, the three most important aspects of every song they make, slithered cooly out of the speakers and wrapped themselves around the room. For a moment the world seemed to stop and ‘100 Times Over’ seemed like it could last forever. So much so that when it came to an end, you were left wishing you could replay their entire set all over again.

Cassia have a gigantic few months ahead of them, with a potentially life changing few years in touching distance. But this is a band who are making music for the love of it, a band who befriend everyone they speak to and one that deserve every ounce of the attention they’re receiving.

More from Emily at www.emajorblog.com

INHEAVEN on the Album, The Sugarmill and Getting Gory

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August 27th || Leah Hamer

‘Oh my god, the last time we went to Stoke it was one of our favourite gigs!’ The excited voice of INHEAVEN’s James Taylor exclaims, The Sugarmill is an amazing venue!’ After listing a series of other notable cities that the band are excited to perform in once again, I reminded the guitarist and co-vocalist of my local roots and home venue, ‘Put that at the top of the list, we’re the most excited about The Sugarmill, definitely!’

                Their return to the legendary club is caused by their upcoming autumn tour, to celebrate the release of their self-titled debut album. With just days to go before the release on September 1st, I caught up with one-quarter of the bubbling, dream pop sensation, ‘It’s just a big waiting game now, we’re so excited to release it,’ James explains, with ecstatic anticipation riddled in his voice. ‘It’s been such a long process as we formed in 2013, recorded it at the end of 2015 and then went back in to the studio to record some new ones in 2016. So to finally get it out is a relief.’

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                Not ones to just sit around twiddling their thumbs, IHEAVEN’s James, Chloe, Jake and Joe have been constantly on the road and writing, ‘We’re kind of 24-7 workaholic band. If we’re not on tour we’re writing, recording, making videos, so there’s not much time in between. As a band you’ve got one shot at this and we want to know that we’ve put 110% into it, no matter what happens in the future.’

                One way they’ve kept themselves busy has been through planning the next record. ‘We work really fast, we’ve already written about one hundred songs, so we want to get this record out and get started with the next. We’re always planning ahead.’

                After forming a huge cult fan-base in the past few years, James is eager to show the world who they are. ‘It’s our flag in the sand, this us right now and how we’ve felt over the last few years. We’re really proud of it and we will always look back on it fondly. It’s us now and as we progress as a band, our sound will change, so it is good to leave a mark.’

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                Fans will already be well aware of the band’s daring single releases like The World On Fire and Vultures, yet it is a mid-album track that holds a place in the heart of James. ‘My favourite would be Do You Dream. It’s our most dream pop and I love it. I listen to it with pleasure unlike the other tracks where I can hear how they started and how they were recorded, whereas with Do You Dream it’s got something about it which just makes me forget that. I want to listen to it over and over again.’

                INHEAVEN are band filled with creativity and imagination- the diversity of their individual talents is spread out amongst every aspect of the band, from video production to artwork design. ‘It’s all in house. We hope that’s what makes us stand out from other bands.’ Singer and bassist Chloe Little’s videos certainly give them a unique quality for sure. ‘Chloe is a big fan of weird 70s horror movies which bleeds out in her work- like Treats is based on Carrie and World on Fire is based on a film called The Witch- which is terrifying!’

                Gore is definitely a factor in all of these music videos, which makes it particularly peculiar to film, especially for World On Fire, ‘It was interesting! We were in a field where people kept walking past us, so it was a bit awkward and we were pretty self-conscious when we saw an old lady on a country walk with her dog, and then Chloe was stood there with blood on her hands and I was dressed as a priest holding a harp…it’s definitely our weirdest video!’ James laughs.

                It isn’t all just blood and guts, however, with every track comes a deep message and thought-provoking lyrics. ‘All of our favourite bands growing up had strong messages behind their music and strong visuals along with it. We write about what we believe in and I think a lot of young people are involved in politics, especially now, and that’s a beautiful thing that we want to be a part of.’

After a colossal festival season, a serge in their fan-base and a mind-blowing individuality- INHEAVEN's album is set to be a treat. You can pre-order it here: http://www.inheaven.co/ 

INHEAVEN will perform at The Sugarmill on the 5th October, tickets are available here: http://sugarmill.seetickets.com/search/all

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ALBUM REVIEW - Waxahatchee : Out in the Storm

Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm

Release date: July 14, 2017

Out in the Storm, Katie Crutchfield’s fourth album as Waxahatchee and her second release with Merge, is the blazing result of a woman reawakened. Her most autobiographical and honest album to date, Out in the Storm is a self-reflective anchor in the story of both her songwriting and her life. As Crutchfield prepared for the release of her Merge debut Ivy Tripp, she found herself depleted emotionally and professionally amidst the dissolution of a noxious relationship. “Ivy Tripp doesn’t really have any resolution. It’s a lot of beating around the bush, and superficially trying to see my life clearly, but just barely scratching the surface. Out in the Storm digs into what I was going through without blinking. It's a very honest record about a time in which I was not honest with myself.” After much self-examination, Crutchfield found renewed energy and support from her bandmates. With these strong women surrounding her, she found the strength, clarity, and poise to overcome the emotionally taxing Ivy Tripp tour in an explorative space that would result in Out in the Storm.

The album was tracked at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia with John Agnello, a producer, recording engineer, and mixer known for working with some of the most iconic musicians of the last 25 years, including Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. For Agnello, it was Crutchfield’s voice that drew him in. “The first demo song I heard was ‘Fade’. The melodies, the way she sings it, the way she turns the melody, and the way she goes note to note is literally beautiful. Singers—you either have it or you don’t. She has it.” Agnello and Crutchfield worked together for most of December 2016, along with the band: sister Allison Crutchfield on keyboards and percussion, Katherine Simonetti on bass, and Ashley Arnwine on drums; Katie Harkin, touring guitarist with Sleater-Kinney, also contributed lead guitar. At Agnello’s suggestion, the group recorded most of the music live to enhance their unity in a way that gives the album a fuller sound compared to past releases, resulting in one of Waxahatchee’s most guitar-driven releases to date. “My experience working with John was genuinely life-changing,” says Crutchfield. “We had such a great connection right off the bat, and I really feel like he was always looking out for me. He pushed me when I needed it, and gave me space when I needed it.”

 Out in the Storm tells the story of Crutchfield taking control of a volatile situation, embracing her flaws, and exploring a new sonic freedom. “A running theme on the album is accepting your own imperfections that you’ve been trying really hard to hide,” says Crutchfield. “Never Been Wrong” brazenly opens the album with fiery guitars and Crutchfield’s forthright lyrics: “You walk around like/ It’s your god-given right/ You love being right/ You’ve never been wrong.” This song serves as the foundation of the album by setting up the story with Crutchfield’s anger, sadness, and vulnerability all at once. “Being straightforward has always been more natural for me, and it was incredibly cathartic,” says Crutchfield. “It reminded me of being a teenager again, how I wrote songs then, and how huge that felt. It’s like that moment you walk away from a fight and you realize all of the things you should have said. This record is me saying all of that out loud alone as a personal practice. It’s sad and it's angry, and I think being both at the same time proved to be a powerful motivation for me.”

“8 Ball,” with its bouncy cadence, unorthodox vocal rhythm, and airy guitars, offers up an experimental side of Crutchfield’s songwriting. “Lyrically speaking, this song is really about standing up to someone who’s passively wronged you for a long time. It’s about falling down, getting back up, taking a deep breath, and delivering some unassailable truth.” Presenting us with the title of the album, “Silver” takes cues from Robert Pollard with its abstract poeticism led by illustrious melody. “Recite Remorse” begins atmospherically, with only synthesizers and keyboards, and is told in three acts that increasingly build up: “The first part is about a breakthrough after a long period of soul-searching,” notes Crutchfield. “The middle is about nostalgia and resisting a change, and the ending is about ripping off the band-aid.” One of the angriest songs on the album is “Brass Beam,” its lyrical saltiness (“I had to go/ I put it out just like a cigarette/ I’d never be a girl/ You’d like or trust or you’d respect”) juxtaposed with a steady mid-tempo beat, resulting in a reflective, well-deserved kiss-off.

Crutchfield’s voice oscillates between effortless grace and commanding righteousness, taking the listener with her on an explicitly personal journey. Songs like “Hear You” and “No Question” are lyrically unapologetic and musically resolute, while the softer acoustic songs like “A Little More” and “Fade” let fear and melancholy seep through. But it is on the atmospheric “Sparks Fly” where we feel an essential redemption: “Float on my back, watch the purple sky/ In the last moments of sunlight/ I know you don’t recognize me/ But I’m a live wire, finally/ Sparks fly, sparks fly.” In the past, much of Crutchfield’s songwriting has relied on gritty self-awareness written in monologues. “Sparks Fly” acts as an inner dialogue and marks the first time since the inception of Waxahatchee that any semblance of self-love has shone through. This moment is a perspective we’ve yet to see from Crutchfield: it is a rediscovery of herself, and the realization of a full life she is completely worthy of. “It’s about self-preservation, self-care, and reclaiming your autonomy,” says Crutchfield. “When you find the things that make you happy, sometimes it’s easier to see things that make you unhappy.”

When LEAH HAMER Spoke to NORMAN JAY

Leah Hamer || July 17th

MBE. Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. To obtain this title, you’ve got to be pretty special, wouldn’t you agree? Well DJing extraordinaire Norman Jay, MBE, is just that and more. A man that revolutionised the underground club scene and brought funk, disco and soul to the quiet streets of the UK, all whilst he was a teenager. From spawning Kiss FM to building the Good Times Sound System to being the first ever British DJ to be honoured with a feature film, as shown at the Cannes Film Festival, in a career spanning decades- Norman Jay has used his time on earth wisely. Now he continues to spread the soul with his treasured club nights and festival sets. Ahead of his performance at Camp Bestival, REBEL caught a few words with the legend.

On an early Monday morning, a weary Norman answers the phone and admits immediately to feeling a little worse for wear. He coughs and splutters, ‘It’s been a mad weekend.’ He laughs and explains a very worthy reason for his hangover, ‘I’m just recovering from doing a massive benefit for the victims of Grenfell Tower…A lot of money was raised and it was a great atmosphere. So many people came to give their time for free and a lot of the victims’ families came as well so it was quite emotional.’

Norman’s time is a precious commodity these days and during this time of year, it is taken up vastly by his almighty festival schedule. ‘Boy I’m looking forward to the Liverpool International Music Festival, I haven’t been back to Liverpool in a while and when I’m up there, the crowds have always shown me a lot of love. There are so many other DJs they could have chosen for it and to be on their radar is amazing. Then there’s House of Common with Madness at Clapham Common, Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival, Camp Bestival…there’s so many I can’t keep track.’

As an artist, Norman Jay is in high demand constantly due to his world renowned festival sets that consistently have tents overflowing. ‘Clubs are great but you’re limited. There are only so many things you can do within the confines of a club. Whereas a festival that’s outside, there’s a variety of people there that might not necessarily be into what you’re playing, but they’ll come and try it out anyway. It’s more of a challenge and you can give more variety.’

As international star as well as on the home front, there is no question in Norman’s mind as to which nation is the king of the festival. ‘Britain is the best,’ He laughs. ‘No disrespect to those abroad but the only thing they have over us is the weather. They have guaranteed sunshine in Europe or Australia or New Zealand. But nothing comes close to playing in front of a home crowd. Even in the mud, in the rain, when it’s freezing cold- the Brits are a race apart from anyone else.’

As a born and bred Londoner, Norman has a big place in his heart for the capital’s music scene. ‘We don’t have many festivals but they’re great in London. I’ll be at Lovebox, which is London’s premiere festival, then Notting Hill Carnival is amazing- I don’t play there anymore but it’s just special.’ Notting Hill Carnival is a pivotal event in Norman’s career, as it was always his childhood ambition to play there- and his dream has been made reality multiple times now throughout the space of his career.

Yet despite decades in the business, Norman is still pinching himself over the opportunities he is offered. On the 22nd July at Manchester’s Albert Hall, Norman will be appearing at Soul Town, alongside his childhood heroes Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Colin Curtis and Russ Winstanley. ‘I have no idea what it’s going to be like but I can’t wait. I’m quite in awe of playing on that bill. To be fair, I might not even play- I might just leave those guys to it, I’m more than happy to just listen to them.’ He laughs.

Despite his fame and royal title, Norman shies away from the hustle and bustle of celebrity life and remains modest about his achievements. As Colin Curtis was his hero growing up, Norman is humbled to think that he too is a hero to many, ‘It’s an honour to be seen like that to some, yet as I’m not in the limelight, it is very surreal to think that.’

As someone who has experience waves of musical changes throughout the generations, Norman is a wise commentator on today’s current climate. ‘People don’t party like they used to, that’s for sure.’ He chuckles, ‘But I just think it’s going in a new direction with grime and artists like Stormzy who are great for the new wave of dance music. More and more people are going out and enjoying live music than ever before, you can see that with the popularity of festivals. Yet it is absurd to me that in this age more and more clubs are closing down despite more people going out. It’s a real shame.’

With the knowledge that musicians today are up against thousands of competitors with the same technology and the same hurdles ahead of them, Norman’s advice to young hopefuls is simple, ‘Success doesn’t come at the push of a button. It is a lot of hard work, it was then, and it is now.’

Norman Jay MBE will be appearing at Camp Bestival from the 27-30th July.

TOM CLARKE from THE ENEMY LIGHTS UP KEELE

Bethan Shuff

The first time I saw The Enemy was at Keele SU back in 2012, so it was really lovely to see Tom Clarke return to the venue at which I fell in love with his music. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Enemy’s first album We’ll Live and Die in These Towns, Tom is touring with an acoustic set of the album in its entirety and it was something special.

Opening the bill was local lads The Torch with a stripped back set in comparison to their usual indie rock. Harry Poole swapped his kit for a Cajon drum box, Josh Woody armed with an acoustic guitar and Owen Hodgkinson with his electric. The lads played a laidback set, adapting well to their new acoustic set up, frontman Owen as confident as always chatting away with the audience, talking about the first time he saw The Enemy, supporting Oasis. The Torch played a cover of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, an old classic with their own slant, as well as adapting their own tracks like fan-favourite, Riot At The Ritz, the band’s first single back in October 2015. Owen thanked his bandmates as they left the stage before going on to talk about the last time he saw The Enemy, supporting The Libertines, and so closed the set with a cover of The Libertine’s – Can’t Stand Me Now on his own.

Main support came from Joe Doleman, joining Tom for the full tour, a 20-year-old solo acoustic artist from Leamington Spa. He opened his set with a soulful and catchy track entitled Nervous, followed by the heart-warming and elegant Learning To Fly. Joe told us all of his first ever gig six years ago, aged 14, and how he covered Whistle for the Choir by The Fratellis, and so he graced Keele SU with the same track and the crowd joined him in singing the beautiful cover. After successful audience participation, Joe taught us some lyrics to one of his own tracks so the audience could sing his final track from the set with him. With a spring in his step and dancing with every note, Joe is a charismatic and enthusiastic soul with a strong stage presence and huge voice; it’s easy to compare male solo artists to the likes of Ed Sheeran or James Bay, but Joe stands out from these comparisons.

As James – Sit Down played over the speakers, everyone knew it was nearly time for Tom to take to the stage, as it’s a song that always found itself slotted into an Enemy setlist. Tom, alongside keys player Howard and bassist Gaz, took confidently to the stage as they opened with a raunchy acoustic version of Aggro, which maintained the power and angst of the original. 10 years of We’ll Live and Die In These Towns, an album which holds so much sentimental value and nostalgia for indie music lovers, was transformed into a stunning acoustic set in front of just 200 lucky fans. Howard’s keys was a beautiful addition to the set, especially in tracks like Happy Birthday Jane and We’ll Live and Die in These Towns, to which ‘Now, this song is about, is about, is about you’ was chanted by the audience as Tom stood with a beaming smile on his face.

Tom tells the crowd of how, when adapting the album to an acoustic set, they began to look at a particular track and were stumped. ‘It can’t be fucking done. There’s no chance, no way.’ They couldn’t turn such a huge indie rock anthem into an acoustic track. It was the first track written as The Enemy and was now Tom’s favourite acoustic adaption. 40 Days and 40 Nights. Tom began playing the opening chords before stopping and laughing. ‘It sounds a lot nicer if you tune your guitar first!’ Whilst having his guitar swapped, we were formally introduced to Gaz and Howard; Tom said they’d been ripping Howard the whole tour, calling him Susan and all sorts, ‘but tonight I’m just going to let you know he’s a talented bastard.’ And that he is.
‘I want to play you something off the second album. It never worked with the full band and I don’t think they ever really liked it, but I fucking loved it.’ Tom was 100% down-to-earth and honest in the entire set, talking about his music from the heart and matching the stripped back tracks he was playing. He sung Sing When You’re In Love with so much power, I wondered how his lungs didn’t pack in. 

Everyone knew there was just one song left off the album that was yet to be played. This song. And so the crowd chanted and chanted as they had done before We’ll Live and Die in These Towns. ‘It’s coming’ Tom laughed ‘but first I want to play a song for you that’s been there in my darkest hours’, he said before covering The Drugs Don’t Work by The Verve, another track that has often found itself in The Enemy’s live shows.

Tom had one last thing to say before gracing us with This Song. ‘Next year’s not a 10 year anniversary, it’s not an anniversary of anything and there’s no good reason for us to do it again next year other than we just fucking want to. If we’re going to do this Stoke, the only way there’s any point is if I write some new stuff; and the only way I’m going to write some new stuff is if you lot want me to. If you do, I’m fucking there and I’m gonna be here every year.’ So, there we have it, it’s official that there’s absolutely no stopping Tom Clarke from creating masterpiece after masterpiece and returning to Stoke again and again. He went on to dedicate This Song to Brian Wheatley, the man who gave him his first ever job, and the crowd sung it with him loud and proud. In an eruption of applause, Gaz and Howard left the stage and Tom began to leave before stopping at the keys, looking at the audience and playing us one last snippet of This Song on them.

Keele saw a beautiful show celebrating The Enemy’s first album’s 10th anniversary, but I have to say I can’t wait to see what Tom produces in the future.

Queens Of The Stone Age New Single Reviewed

John MacLeod || May 21st

It doesn't seem five minutes since, on a piping hot May afternoon, I was sitting in my drummer's car and excitedly playing her 'My God Is The Sun', the first single from Queens Of The Stone Age's then-forthcoming album '…Like Clockwork'.  Turns out, though, it was 2013.  And now here we are, during a similar heat wave four years later, and QOTSA have just put out the first single from their now-forthcoming album 'Villains', entitled 'The Way You Used To Do'.

This song is everything it should be - slick, melodic, loaded with mean riffs & tight drums.  Josh Homme's vocals are dialled to "Sweet" for this particular outing, but we all know he can belt it out when the need arises.  He doesn't need to here though, subtlety is the watchword.

It's a love song, definitely, and there's an almost rockabilly feel to it, but there are moments (both lyrically and musically) that twist it from a 'traditional' paean to romance, for example "Is love mental disease or lucky fever dream? / Fine with either…" and the eerie moment where all the music cuts out save for the sound of a pulsing heartbeat underneath the lyric "So lay your hands across my beating heart…". The narrator of this song seems to be unconvinced as to whether or not love is wholly positive ("Jump like an arsonist to a perfect match / Burned alive…" suggests an act of self-immolation, quite accurately, in all fairness), but is absolutely sold on his life choices, regardless.

So what do we think this means for 'Villains'?  One thing QOTSA has always done is evolved, they've never stayed in the same place too long.  There is a clear path of development from their self-titled debut to now.  2013's magnificent '…Like Clockwork' gave birth a new sound for QOTSA, along with lyrical themes that had never been explored by them, in light of Homme's near-death experiences during routine surgery, and this record was emotionally darker, more vulnerable, and more somber than their previous outings.  During the making of it, they lost long-time drummer Joey Castillo, and gained The Mars Volta's Jon Theodore ('Villains' will be his first full recorded expedition with the band).  Homme had gone so far as to describe '…Like Clockwork' as the beginning of "QOTSA Phase 2".

'The Way You Used To Do' sounds revitalised and less battle-scarred than songs from '…Like Clockwork', and to me this indicates a return to the party of albums past, but still with an eye on the darker sounds of their last record.  Their continued relationship with artist Boneface is indicative of this (his artwork seemed to capture the tone of '…Like Clockwork'), as is the unusual soundscape that fades in at the song's final two or three seconds.  This is a development of the "QOTSA Phase 2" that Josh Homme talked about in 2013.

There's a possibility that we may even see a bit of political commentary on the album, as the band were very vocal in putting out a not-quite-complimentary statement after the election win of Donald Trump last year (in full here: https://instagram.com/p/BP1ZVatBNmV/), and song titles such as 'Head Like A Haunted House', 'The Evil Has Landed', or 'Villains Of Circumstance' could be quite pointedly aimed at The 'Fascist Clown Penis' In Chief.  This is entirely conjecture, of course, but it could be quite amazing if we were about to witness the first ever QOTSA protest record…

TL;DR: I love the new song, and I like where this is going.

FESTIVALS, PAC-MAN, BREAKFAST CEREAL(!)...AN INTERVIEW WITH DJ YODA

DJ YODA IS A MULTI-AWARD-WINNING HIP-HOP DJ AND PRODUCER, HEADLINING FESTIVALS AND CLUBS AROUND THE WORLD. NO TYPICAL CLUB DJ, HIS INTERESTS LIE IN FINDING FRESH AND UNIQUE WAYS TO BRING TURNTABLES OUT OF THE CLUB AND GETTING INVOLVED IN BESPOKE COLLABORATIONS. WORKING WITH CLASSICAL COMPOSERS TO NEUROSCIENTISTS; BRASS BANDS TO FILM DIRECTORS; DR DRE TO DAME EVELYN GLENNIE; BANKSY TO MARK RONSON; BBC RADIO 4 TO THE BFI, HE REINVIGORATES HIS CRAFT WITH WRY INVENTION AND HUMOROUS INTENT.

This is a man with a very busy summer....

"Everything these days is very summercentric. It seems to be quite dead in January, then as soon as the sun comes out it goes mental. This busy summer schedule becomes normal and I kinda just expect it now. I have a lot of different shows I do, so I can do something different everywhere."

"I enjoy all of the festivals, but I guess the best for me are Glastonbury and Bestival that kinda bookend the summer festival season, so it's a really nice way to start and end the process."

But with such a busy schedule, do these busier performers actually get to experience the festivals?

"It really depends on the festival and who I'm with. Sometimes I'm by myself, somethimes with friends and sometimes with other artists I know. For example I'm playing the Friday at Glastonbury this year, but then have to be back in London for two shows on Saturday, so really I can enjoy Friday and that'll be it."

Yoda's sets at Glastonbury this year sum up what this amazing event is all about....smaller hidden gems the average festival goer would never find, but are in abundance here...

"I'm doing sets at Funkingham Palace (The Get Down DJ Set) and The Stranger Things AV Set at The Gas Tower (a new stage at Glasto this year). Because Glastonbury's so huge and I've done it for like the last 15 years or something, I've never played in the same place twice and I like it that way. I wouldn't like to go back and just do the same thing. This Gas Tower for example has this huge 360 degree AV screen which means we can project The Stranger Things AV set in a different way, not just on one screen, which will be really cool actually."

The diversity of this DJ's shows are well known and well loved...

"Each of my summer shows can be different. Sometimes I'm booked in to do a straight DJ set, but a lot of the time these days people want a specific theme and because I play every kind of music I like it that way too as it keeps things interesting and fresh for me."

"That being said, at the core of it all I'm still a hip-hop DJ and those techniques of a hip-hop DJ are at the centre of everything I do. But for me, the reason for all of this diverse stuff I get into is because I've been doing it for a long time. Along time ago I was happy to be DJing in a club on a Friday night and make people dance, but now I wanna keep it moving and keep it interesting. I think my attention span is quite short and that comes accross in the way I DJ as well...sometimes I'll only play about 10 seconds of a song and then move on to the next."

"I just love collaborating and collaborating with unexpected people and just seeing where else I can take DJing and turntables that are outside of the regular places you would expect."

....and this is a DJ with some very unusual projects in his back pocket....BBC Radio 4 mash-up...yes, the shipping forecast and The Archers hit the turntables; the History of Gaming; DJ meets quite wonderful, but very strange Marching Band....

"One of the ways I really like to work is to be given a very tight theme and a focus, and like I say, because I play every type of music sometimes it's very overwelming to look at all music and say "Where do I start?". So I like to do these mixes that are themed and many times people will approach me and say, well can you do a mix up of just this kinda stuff. So Radio 4 approached me when they were celebrating their anniversary and asked if I could do a best of Radio 4 mix. I was like totally, I listen to Radio 4 a bit."

"The History of Gaming is one of my AV Shows and I'm doing that one a couple of times this summer. I go through the history of computer games, starting with Pac-Man and Pong and work my way up to the games of today. All of the music relates to the games and all of the games are on the screen. It's a really fun one to do."

"Now, the Trans Siberian March Band...I got to see them perfoming in Brighton ad they were so crazy! They were dressed up in crazy clothes and although they are really a Balkan Brass Band, they were playing covers of songs. So I got chatting to one of them and we decided it would be a really cool thing for us to collaborate. We did a whole year of shows where we worked out a way for them to do cover versions of the kinda songs that I play and it ended up being really, really good fun."

When asked about what he likes to listen to himself, that incredible diversity comes through again.

"I'm as likely to be listening to Country & Western as film music as hip-hop. But right at the moment.....my favourite TV programme of all time is Twin Peaks and there's a new season of that out now and that music is what I listen to!"

Finally, Yoda imparted one last piece of knowledge to us...and if you're ever in a postition to book this wonderful DJ for a show, listen up...."What is the one must have item on your Rider?"

"I ask for a rare and exotic breakfast cereal! One of my small obsessions is breakfast cereals and I collect rare and limited addition ones."

So promoters....Cornflakes ain't gonna cut it with DJ Yoda!

You can catch DJ Yoda at a number of festivals this summer. But, as Glasto is sold out we recommend....

www.campbestival.net or www.bestival.net

REBEL AT DOWNLOAD 2017 REVIEW

ROCK AND METAL FANS GATHER IN THOUSANDS FOR SYSTEM OF A DOWN AND BIFFY CLYRO WHILST AEROSMITH PERFORM THEIR LAST EVER UK SHOW

SUN AND SITE IMPROVEMENTS MAKE DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL’S 15TH YEAR A HUGE SUCCESS

TICKETS FOR DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2018 ON SALE THIS WEEK

The biggest date in the rock and metal calendar took place as 80,000 people descended on the hollowed grounds of Donington ParkLeicestershire across the weekend for the 15thannual Download Festival. Rock royalty, Aerosmith gave fans a memorable final UK show,System Of A Down returned for an electric headline performance, and Biffy Clyro didn’t fail to take their place as rightful Download Festival headliners.

With the sun shining throughout the weekend and the improved site greener than ever, the crowd once again made Download Festival the most unmissable event in the festival calendar. With 300 metres of new drainage added (the height of the Shard in London), new traffic routes and increased security measures, Download fans were able to enjoy every moment of the festival to the fullest.

Fans arriving on Wednesday took full advantage of The Village and campsites, providing the ultimate experience for Download festival-goers. From the Wall of Death to the Side Splitter comedy tent, silent disco, cinema, multiple food stands and even a full supermarket, the festival atmosphere was incomparable.

The first full day of music on Friday saw Prophets Of Rage (featuring members of Cyprus Hill, Rage Against The Machine and Public Enemy) deliver mammoth performances of their respective band’s politically charged hits, also paying tribute to their "fallen comrade", Chris Cornell. Pop-punk royalty Good Charlotte thrilled by performing their classic pop punk anthems before second stage headliners Sum 41 provided huge servings of nostalgia, ending their set with classics ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’.  Sleeping With Sirens made their Download debut with a storming headline set at The Avalanche Stage, which was this year hosted by Fresh Blood’s Alex Baker. The crowd went wild for Machine Gun Kelly’s injection of rock-infused hip-hop, whilst metal legends Exodus fired on all cylinders as they brought The Dogtooth Stage to a close, with a ferocious set of unhinged thrash for the history books.

System Of A Down made their welcome return to the sacred grounds of Donington with a festival masterclass. The 31-song strong set, saw the Armenian innovators delve into their immense catalogue of rock club anthems such ‘Chop Suey’, ‘BYOB’ and ‘Toxicity’. The crowd was whipped into a final frenzy as they closed with ‘Sugar’, reminding the world how truly unique they are.

Saturday’s epic line up saw Of Mice & Men bring a triumphant set to the Main Stage, with bassist Aaron Pauley stepping forward into the limelight as new frontman. UK horror-punk upstarts Creeper ticked off their bucket list with an amazing Main Stage debut ahead of their idols and punk legends AFI, who graced the Download stage for the first time. Pop-punk heroes Simple Plan brought the fun as Saturday’s Avalanche Stage headliners, whilst ex-Murderdolls frontman Wednesday 13 laid waste to The Dogtooth Stage. Horror-rock legendRob Zombie turned the Zippo Encore Stage into his trademark twisted carnival with a spectacularly visual show and massive hits such as ‘Dragula’, ‘Superbeast’ and ‘Living Dead Girl’.

Biffy Clyro claimed their well-earned place atop the festival bill on Saturday. The Scottish rock titans rattled through a set of modern rock classics including ‘Many Of Horror’, ’Black Chandelier’ and ‘The Captain’ – as well as some deep cuts – with the crowd singing every word back to them. Simon Neil prepared the crowd for Aerosmith by leading a sing-along of‘Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ before launching into their finale of ‘Stinging Belle’ with a pyrotechnic show to make Rammstein jealous.

Throughout the weekend, WWE NXT provided non-stop high impact action in their full size wrestling arena. Capacity crowds were amazed with displays of skill, athleticism and high flying manoeuvres as the most electrifying names in sports entertainment delivered the full NXT experience to Donington Park. The knockout moment of the weekend came from a loved up festival-goer as she proposed to her boyfriend in the NXT Arena, with the engagement ring in an X-Box themed container. They are now happily engaged following the couple’s first Download Festival together.

Sunday was wrestled into submission as WWE Hall of Fame legend Chris Jericho opened the Main Stage with an electrifying set as frontman of Fozzy. Glam superstars Steel Panther hit the stage with their tongues firmly in cheek, delivering a trademark debaucherous live show. Crowds roared through sets by In Flames, DevilDriver, The King Blues and Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics. Hard Rock Juggernauts Alter Bridge, led by the legendary Myles Kennedy gave an immense performance setting the stage perfectly for Sunday night’s mind-blowing headliners.

‘America’s Great Rock Band’ Aerosmith took to the Download Festival Main Stage on Sunday evening for their final ever UK appearance. Having received worldwide praise on their ‘Aero-Verdeci Baby!’ tour, the audience were treated to an unbelievable show laden with mega-hits ‘Love In An Elevator’ and ‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’, followed by the whole of Donington Park singing along to the epic ‘Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ before closing with‘Walk This Way’. Liv Tyler looked on as Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton and Brad Whitford brought the 15th edition of Download to a close in true style.

Highlights of the 15th Download Festival will be broadcast on SKY ARTS on 23 and 24 June from 9pm – midnight.

WHEN LEAH MET CIRCA WAVES

Leah Hamer

‘I’ve spent a lot of time with my cat. She’s called Lily. I’m a dog man really but I’m into cats now. So I do that a lot. I Instagram her a lot. I cook food a lot. Then I write songs for the rest of the day. It’s pretty intense…’  

That was how the lead singer of indie-rock band Circa Waves, Kieran Shudall, responded to the question- what have you been up to? 

Far from sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

In a sticky dressing room in Keele University’s Student Union, ahead of their gig at Woodstoke, Kieran greeted me with a warm hug and charming scouse accent. He laughed as he recalled how his me-time had been spent in the past few weeks that Circa Waves had been taking time off to enjoy a well-deserved break from band life. With his busy schedule being taken up with his cat and eating food, Kieran has been apart from his fellow band mates Sam Rourke, Colin Jones and Joe Falconer who have all become Southern traitors of late. 

‘They’ve all fucked off to London and I still live in Liverpool. I think they’ve seen each other but I stick to my Northern roots. Represent. Stick to the scousers.’ He says with a sly smile. ‘But to be fair after being on tour for so long, time apart is much needed.’ Especially for what the band has in store for the rest of the year, which is hectic to say the least. 

‘We’ve got an American tour for a few weeks, then it will be festival season- so we’ve got Glastonbury- which will be amazing, Reading and Leeds, some more European festivals. Then we’re in Japan, South Korea, Mexico, then back to America. It’s non-stop. But that’s the way we like it.’ 

After forming back in 2013, if the members of Circa Waves didn’t like to be busy- they’d be in a lot of trouble by now. After the success of their debut album, Young Chasers, the band became over-night stars and their success has led to the recent release of the newest album, Different Creatures, just a few short months ago. Yet Kieran is already thinking of new music. 
‘I’m always writing to be honest. I’ve probably written another record. But I want to figure out what is all about and not rush it too much. Hopefully we’ll release something by the end of the year or early next year.’ 

As the core writer, Kieran spends most of his time capturing melodies on his iPhone the second he gets an idea. ‘I’ve got about a billion terrible ideas on my phone.’ Yet he is always searching for those special tracks. ‘I like the big songs. I’m really into pop writing and anything that can make a huge collection of people sing along. I get a big kick off that, opposed to the quieter album tracks which are great but I’m about the reaction. I like to see how a song goes from being played in your living room to having 30,000 people singing it. I look for those songs. But they don’t come that often.’ 

On this sweltering summers evening, Circa Waves are always identified as being a summers band due to their hit track, T-Shirt Weather, so this makes tonight an entirely suitable gig for them. ‘The first album always goes down well at a gig like this. But the second album is a lot darker, somehow though they intertwine quite strangely and it works.’ 

Although they have been moving away from the happy, cheeky business of Young Chasers, towards a darker feel in Different Creatures, the transition has not been deliberate. ‘We are naturally steering away from the pop stuff but if I write song like Fossils or T-Shirt Weather again I’m not going to discount it. It’s just what I’m writing at the time. Now I’m writing an in-between of the two albums- a happy medium so it will be interesting to see what comes out. It’s not happy or sad…it’s aggressively euphoric.’ 

Throughout his time as a songwriter Kieran has loved to write pop music in an unobvious way, ‘I don’t go out to please fans but I love bands like The Beatles, The Killers and Kings of Leon who write pop songs in a rock way. The best songs are always genuine and have heart to them because people can tell when it’s false. So I try to keep it real…God, I sound old telling you to keep it real.’ He laughs. 

And with that old school advice, Kieran left to prepare for the Keele Ballroom stage, where a crowd of greasy fans awaited their performance at Woodstoke.