5 Things I Learned From Touring Japan [by Almeida’s Tom West]

Tom West of Almeida imparts some valuable advice to anyone touring or visiting Japan (a.k.a. the Punk Rock Holy Grail).

Article by Tom West (Almeida).

Last month, thanks to RNR Tours, Almeida realised our longtime dream of playing a run of shows in Japan – and had the honour of sharing a stage with Belvedere, Waterweed and our cruddy buddies Darko every night.

In my experience, playing in a band – particularly a DIY punk band – means that your proud achievements don’t always translate when talking to regular folks with regular lives. Cramming into a smelly van for hours and rating the service station toilets out of ten isn’t the most jealousy-inducing boast, no matter how many different countries you’ve rocked the fuck out in.

But there’s something about touring Japan that seems to really resonate with people and help them (accurately) realise, “Wow, you’re really serious about this!”

For this and a million other reasons, going to Japan was a highly gratifying landmark experience for Almeida, and if you’re in a touring band I’d highly recommend you start networking in order to get out there as soon as you can.

If you do get around to it, there will likely be a few culture shocks and bits you’ll forget to do, so here are some top tips to help you survive.

Travel

A 15 hour flight may be daunting (and very boring if your in-flight entertainment conks out – grazi mille, AIitalia airlines!), but if you’re used to long stretches of staring at the back of someone’s head on tour, you’ll be fairly well prepared.

Make sure you pack comfy gear like PJs and a good quality neck pillow – if you travel on a budget like us you probably won’t get much decent kip on the rickety old seats. It’s not just vital that you stay comfortable for the sake of your flight, but you don’t want to be spending your whole time on the road in Japan trying to pop your neck back into place.

We took our instruments and drum breakables on as hand luggage, which was a good way to ensure they weren’t getting smashed about by the airline – but make sure you’ve established whether it’s ok to do so, as you may incur heavy charges if you haven’t cleared it with them beforehand.

Almedia plane.jpg

Crew

RNR Tours were an awesome well-oiled unit to work with, helping us get from A to B, all the while making sure we got some time in to stroll around a 16th century castle in Nagoya, see the bright lights of Shinjuku, and frolic with feral deer in Nara. As ever, it’s important to not faff about too much in the mornings if you want enough time to see the sights.

We’d have been absolutely hopeless without our team. Unless you have a fluent Japanese speaker in your band, you’ll outright need to employ a tour manager at the very least.

The RNR team are incredibly efficient and assisted us every night with loading our gear in and out of the venues. If you get into a similarly fortunate situation, you can help them (and yourselves) by ensuring sure you label and number your bags to avoid something getting left behind. Probably good practice for any tour, to be honest. Continue reading “5 Things I Learned From Touring Japan [by Almeida’s Tom West]”

Triple Sundae Interview: Hard-Earned Peace of Mind

Mark speaks to Hassan from London’s indie-punk lovelies Triple Sundae about their smashing new EP Peace of Mind.

Interview by Mark Bartlett.

London’s marvellous melodic-punk 4-piece Triple Sundae have just released their new EP Peace of Mind through Umlaut Records. It’s the perfect primer for the summer and the bands most focused, accomplished effort to date. It’s full of amazing songwriting and sugary, addictive melodies across its three great tracks.

I caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Hassan Afaneh to talk about the band’s future, his inspirations and the state of the UK music scene.

How did Triple Sundae come to be?

Triple Sundae came around at the tail end of 2013 when I had hit up Mike [Smith, guitarist] about wanting to start a band. I was in a really dark place following some pretty shit events within my personal life and it had been two years since I’d played in a punk-oriented band. That outlet was very much needed. A couple of months of finding members and song-writing sessions went by and then boom Tripsun was born in February 2014.

Triple Sundae Album Launch.jpg

Have you all played in bands previously or do any of you moonlight in other projects?

Each of us have played in bands prior to Triple Sundae (and during!).

I’ve played in punk bands, emo bands, hardcore bands, ska bands, acoustic bands, neo-soul bands… it goes on. I was only ever good at playing music, so to preserve my sanity I was jumping on project after project!

As well as TS, I play in On a Hiding to Nothing, Zandro drums for Lead Shot Hazard and Andy had started a project named Postcards. One thing is for certain though – we have all played in ska bands at one point in our lives. Ska lives bro.

How would you describe your sound to someone? Is there a genre within punk you feel especially akin to?

If you like anything on Side One Dummy, Jade Tree Records or Quote Unquote then you’ll probably dig it. Continue reading “Triple Sundae Interview: Hard-Earned Peace of Mind”

The Road to Pouzza Fest

Read Joelle’s insightful journal about her trip to Montreal’s Pouzza Fest – a both heartwarming and heartbreaking account of travelling thousands of miles for the love of punk rock.

Article by Joelle Laes.

Monday – May 14th

5AM

I wake up as if I’ve just been given the biggest fright of the century. Turns out it’s only my alarm.

I feel confused. Anxious. Almost in a state of panic. I need to rush and get to the airport.

After spending the weekend at El Topo Goes Loco and being home for two hours to pack before heading off to another gig to catch The Affect Heuristic again on Sunday, I had a slight panic when my Airbnb host failed to reply in a timely manner (according to my standards). I had a bit of a meltdown once back home and turned to the only people I know to keep me sane no matter what: the Punk Rock Women’s group. Lots of love and reassurance later, I finally managed to fall asleep. This morning: still no reply. No time to call him, as I run for the train.

7.30 AM

“You could be stuck an office with a guy wearing a tie telling you what to do. You are living the fucking dream,” Richie Cooper (Eat Dirt.) comments on my obligatory Facebook airport-check in.

Am I? Living the dream? I can’t tell as I’m stood queueing at Brussels Airport, stressed out to fuck. I haven’t had a proper sleep in weeks (too many festivals and work); I still feel a bit fragile after the boozy blinding madness that was El Topo Goes Loco.

El Topo w The Affect Heuristic.jpg
Shout Louder vs. The Affect Heuristic antics at El Topo Goes Loco

I could use a cuddle to be fair. Or a straight jacket. That might feel like I’m being hugged too? I don’t know. I feel like I might cry.

I am tired, stressed out and alone. Why do I do this to myself? The pity party continues on and I contemplate sitting in a bathroom stall to have a cry. Could I still be hungover from the weekend? Or is this another case of post-trip-depression?

Whilst I make my way through border control, my phone buzzes. It’s my Airbnb host. He confirms the booking and tells me where to find the keys. The tight feeling in my chest loosens a little bit. At least I won’t be sleeping outside in a fort made of pizza boxes. I can breathe a little again.

Moments later I get a PM off a good friend: “Lovely to see you this weekend, don’t have too much fun in Canada x” I sense a stupid grin appearing on my face. I feel my muscles relax as I think of where I’m headed and why I’m heading there.

I’m about to embark on an adventure some can only dream of, about to spend money I don’t have on things that most adults consider irresponsible. Sometimes I think, should I be spending this much money on punk rock? Is It worth all the stress and anxiety?

Does my Mom worry? Absolutely. After all, if you are somewhere on your own, the only person you can rely on is yourself. But it is worth every ounce of stress it gives me. Like me, my Mom’s come to accept that this is the only way I can make myself happy.

Never have I forged more genuine bonds with people as when I’m singing along to bands, surrounded by people who love them just as much as me. It doesn’t matter if we don’t live around the corner from each other, there is a connection there that some people will never understand. Looking into other people’s eyes, seeing that moment of pure joy when they hear their favourite song. Watching bands pour their heart out on stage; these moments mean everything to me. In these moments I am truly happy. Continue reading “The Road to Pouzza Fest”

Shout Louder’s May 2018 Playlist

We’re excited to share our favourite tunes with you on our new monthly playlist!

There is nothing that we love more than sharing our favourite songs with all of you!

The whole team at Shout Louder is addicted to music, whether that’s live, on record or just sung badly in the shower. There’s not enough time in the world to review every record we love, so we’re going to share a monthly Spotify playlist with you.

Here is what we’re listening to the most in May 2018:

 

EAT DIRT: Shaking Up The Scene [Interview]

EAT DIRT are the latest London riot, taking no prisoners as they sweep through the city. Sarah spoke to vocalist Ben Mills to their future and their unique style.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Meet EAT DIRT. As their all-caps moniker suggests, they’re going to shout until you take notice, so jump on this bandwagon as early as you can. This unusual quintet are the latest storm to shake the music venues of London.

In the flesh they’re a raucous bunch, unable to stay on stage and choosing instead to get up close and personal with their audiences. They’ve taken a dose of their riotous live performance and injected it into their new EP Welcome to Shithouse-On-Sea, which was released on Umlaut Records on April 27th. It’s four punk rock tracks that are short but nonetheless memorable, like getting punched in the face by a beautiful woman in a dream. Musically, I hear it as sleazy rock ‘n’ roll with a hint of 80’s metal, but their ballsy attitude is 100% punk.

There is a lot more to these guys than just the music. They have their own scrappy, hilarious podcast and their own YouTube channel. We’ve been watching them tear the scene to pieces for months, so we took the chance to speak to vocalist Ben Mills to learn more.

How did Eat Dirt come about? You’ve all been in multiple bands previously – tell us a bit about your earlier musical endeavours as well.

Myself and Richie have known each other since Hevy Fest 2012, we met before I went on stage with my then band The Smoking Hearts. Also Dai our guitarist played the day before in his band at the time Adelaide, I’d met Dai in Luton in like 2010 when we played with each other. Richie and myself started a side project called Dead Beat, with a few friends, one of which is our new bass player Joey Black (Shortcuts, Angst, BodyHeat). Any way I was taking a break from music from 2014 – 2017 after touring relentlessly across the world from 2010 – 2014. One day I heard the PearsGreen Star album, and I asked Richie if we wanted to start a band in that vein. Then we wrote EP 1 over email, drafted in some old friends from bands and started playing shows.

Ballad has the most perfect 7 seconds of any song ever in the chorus. Have you considered a second careers as 80 power-ballad masters?

What bit do you mean? The bit where me and Richie harmonise beautifully without any help from computer programming? Yeah, that was the second chorus for Ballad and it’s my favourite chorus I’ve ever written ever. Would love to incorporate those pop punky sing along bits in the next record.

You guys take a much more confident approach to a lot of the bands in the current DIY scene. Who do you take the most influence from?

I’ve learnt from years touring the toilet venues around the country and the world that you have to make an impression. It’s important to be remembered and to leave your mark. But I take a lot of influence from the likes of Davey Havoc, Fat Mike, Greg Puciato, and I spent a lot of time as a teenager in the UKHC scene so that up-close-and-personal, high energy performance attitude. I like to leave it all out there, if I don’t finish the set covered in sweat and gasping for breath I haven’t given it my all. Continue reading “EAT DIRT: Shaking Up The Scene [Interview]”

Album Review: Youth Avoiders – Relentless

Like a perfect hit of potent espresso, Parisian hardcore act Youth Avoiders are the big name being whispered around the UK scene right now. FFO: Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, having your mind blown.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

France may not be at the top of everyone’s list of punk rock nations. In fact, France probably doesn’t register on anyone this side of the channel’s lists as a music nation full stop. Aside from Joe Le Taxi by Vanessa Paradis… which was 30 odd years ago… I defy you to think of any internationally successful French musicians. It’s a tough task. Aside from some dodgy stoner rock bands and some actually pretty decent hip hop acts, it’s slim pickings on the music front for French bands in the UK. It’s good, therefore to see a Parisian punk band breaking down that barrier and crossing the water.

One of the first things you may think of when it comes to punk rock, apart from a relentless barrage of speed, is a wall of fuzzy guitars. This is where Youth Avoiders stand out from the word go. For the most part these guys keep the guitars almost completely clean, giving the songs a jangly, almost surfy edge which is extremely refreshing. Especially when coupled with their breakneck take on DC-style hardcore. Imagine the Dead Kennedys jamming with Minor Threat and you’re in the right ball park. Youth Avoiders trade an abrasive sound for something far punchier and it pays off in spades.

Musically this 11 track album sets out their agenda to get in, get the job done quickly and then fuck off again. They pretty much have one tempo: fast as fuck. Most tracks barely make it past the two minute mark, making it a brief but thrilling ride. Continue reading “Album Review: Youth Avoiders – Relentless”

EP Review: Our Lives in Cinema – All Talk

London’s punchy pop punks Our Lives In Cinema have released a sweet new EP. FFO: Jeff Rosenstock, Alkaline Trio, caffiene highs.

Review by Sarah Williams.

The observant among you will have noticed that I’m quite pally with the Umlaut Records guys (if you’ve not listened the Shout Louder podcast I do with Mark Bell yet I politely recommend you sort your life out), so I’m aware that I may be slightly biased in favour of their releases. That said, I wasn’t expecting them to flood my inbox with so many great EPs this month. We’ve already spoken about Triple Sundae and we’ve got a lot of time for EAT DIRT. Later in May they’re also releasing a great EP from Dynamite Dynamite.

One of the great new band showcase EPs they’ve brought out is from London’s Our Lives In Cinema who, like Triple Sundae, are growing into a much more accomplished act. I enjoyed their first three-track EP, but this is so far advanced from that I almost can’t believe it’s the same band. The biggest improvements come in the confidence of Mark Bartlett’s vocals, much clearer and more decisive on this record, paired with lyrics that have a great deal of singalong potential. Their overall songwriting and composition has improved, as has the tone and quality of the guitars, which are hitting faster, snappier skate-punk levels on this record.

The opening to It’s Always Sunny In Paterson Park is fast and fun, drawing you straight into the record. Mark’s trying to squeeze as many words as possible into each bar, which gives opening line of the chorus (“So this is thirty five…”) enough open, punchy emphasis to make it a huge singalong couplet. The whole song features some sweet harmonies and memorable riffs, developing into a big shoutalong section at the end. Continue reading “EP Review: Our Lives in Cinema – All Talk”