Consumed: Hindsight, Hopes & Tony Hawks [Interview]

Skate-punk legends Consumed discuss regrets, releases, the modern music scene and how their families are part of it.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by JJ Photography UK.

Consumed have been a huge influence for nearly two decades, having originated the classic UK skate-punk sound back in the late 90s. They’re known for their the two records they released on Fat Wreck Chords (Breakfast At Pappas in 1998 and Hit For Six in 1999), both of which showcase their solid, fast, hook-laden punk rock style, which has often been described as quintessentially British.

They went on hiatus in 2003 and reformed in 2015, after much cajoling from Vanilla Pod’s Steve Ford. Since then they’ve been popping up across the country and there’s exciting news of a new EP in the works. As I said when I saw them recently, old-school Consumed fans are in for at treat – then new material sounds like classic Consumed, but it’s even fresher and more exciting.

I met up with guitarist Will Burchell and drummer Chris Billam in the backroom at London’s New Cross Inn, just before Christmas. I quizzed them about their past regrets and future releases, how they’re briging their families into music, and how they feel the punk scene has changed in 20 years.

You reformed for Podstock in 2015 and you’ve done a few shows since. What’s kept you going?

  • Chris Billam (drums): We just enjoyed playing Podstock. Also, when we played Podstock we were shit, so a lot of it was wanting to exorcise that demon! It was awful. Awful. I know the two of us were really nervous and I think it showed. We were out of our comfort zone. I was using the house kit, which was pretty shit, we were rushed for time, we had issues with the sound… we’d built it up to be this huge thing: The Return Of Consumed.

You’ve done a few shows since. I saw you at The Black Heart – that was great.

  • Will Burchell (guitar): That was when it started to feel like a proper gig. After Podstock we were like, “Thank Christ that’s over.”
  • Chris: We even started in the wrong key.
  • Will: Yeah. We started with a song off a compilation that was never properly released. I don’t know why – there were loads of these really weird decisions. We started playing that song in the wrong key and it was just sloppy.
  • Chris: It went downhill from there.
  • Will: We’ve probably done 30 shows since then? 25?
  • Chris: No… more like 20.

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You’ve got a couple of shows lined up, particularly the skate-punk all-dayer in Ipswich in February.

  • Will: It’s murder getting anything booked in. It’s a miracle we do anything because of the laborious internal dialogue we have just to get anything agreed.
  • Chris: Yeah. It’s hard enough trying to get four of us in the same room. It’s not because we hate each other. It’s just life.
  • Will: That’s the reason we’ve only got Liverpool and Ipswich and murmurings of this Japanese jaunt, although I’m not convinced that will happen. I feel like I’m tempting fate by saying it out loud.
  • Chris: Also, we’re a bit jaded with it all. If we did play too much we’d lose interest in it all, and we don’t want to lose interest. As soon as we’re back to the dark side of playing we’ll probably say, “Nah, let’s not do this anymore.” Because why would you? We’re all established in our own lives and weekends are precious. At a weekend you have time to be with your partners and kids, or you can go play in a shitty venue somewhere to five people. You’ve got to get it right.
  • Will: We’ve also taken gigs when it’s been a bit of an adventure. We’ve had a couple of jaunts over to Austria and Germany and those are fun travelling with friends.

You said three of you have kids. What about your taste outside of these gigs? Do you still listen to punk or have you matured into slower, more age-appropriate fare?

  • Will: How dare you!
  • Chris: I’m not going to lie. I put Kenny G on the other day. But then, by the same token, I took it off after about 30 seconds. I do still listen to punk but I’m very selective – I don’t mean that in an elitist way, it’s just that over the years you hear so much that you pare it down into what you’re really into.
  • Will: I think you do reach an age where your music taste calcifies.  When you’re a teenager you just consume music. We always talk about a record shop in Nottingham called Selectadisc. When punk was sort of breaking, you’d literally just devour new music. You’d learn about things from ‘thanks’ lists on record and you’d go in and say, “Right, I want all of the new whatever.” And then it would take three weeks to arrive.
  • Chris: Now with the fact that you can download and stream things, it’s so disposable. Whereas if you’re doing it the way Will’s just described you’d think, “I’m going to like this record, so I’m going to give it as much time as I possibly can.” Whereas now you can just go, “Ah well, it sounds alright,” and move on to the next thing. Propagandhi are still doing it, they’re great. There are always going to be some great bands doing it.
  • Will: There’s a handful. Clowns was the one I was thinking of – Bad Blood was the last album that really made me go ‘fucking hell’.
  • Chris: That album just took my face off. It’s fucking amazing.

Continue reading “Consumed: Hindsight, Hopes & Tony Hawks [Interview]”

Pessimist: Pop Punk For Sad Guys [Interview]

We talk to Ipswich pop-punks Pessimist about their plans for 2018.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos from Burnt Out Media.

Pessimist are a three-piece heavy pop punk band from Ipswich, which has been Shout Louder’s base for the last year or so. It’s always a pleasure to find a relatively new band in your local scene that get you just as excited as all the more-established options out there in the big wide music world.

We have always enjoyed watching them live, however they’re due to release an album later this year that’s sounding hotter and heavier than anything they’ve recorded in the past. They take a lot of cues from emo-influenced pop-punk bands like Knuckle Puck or Neck Deep, but weave in some heavier guitars influences (think Counterparts and Propagandhi) and early-Brand New style dual vocals.

We recently grabbed a few minutes with Chiron James, singer and bassist in Pessimist, to find out a bit more.

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Left to right: Sam Calder (drums), Chiron James (vox/bass) and Ciaran Burgess (vox/guitar)

Hi guys! Thanks very much for taking to time to chat to us.

You’re one my favourite bands in the Ipswich scene – your live show is always great. How long have you guys been playing together for?

That’s so nice of you to say! We’ve been playing together for around 2 years, but it took us a little while to get the formula we wanted, playing around with a few different styles.

Ipswich has a surprisingly thriving little musical community. What do you think is the best thing about the Ipswich scene?

I think South Street Studios (Punch, The Smokehouse, etc.) has absolutely pulled no punches in becoming the staple of Ipswich’s scene. They offer just about every service a band needs and are the nicest people.

You’ve been starting to play a few more shows around the country. Where’s the most interesting place you’ve played so far?

Oh dear! There have been a few interesting places so far… Reading, I think takes it though. We were on a mish mash bill with bands of different genres and there was a little crowd of people who were clearly on something. Continue reading “Pessimist: Pop Punk For Sad Guys [Interview]”

PMX Interview #2: Some Things Always Seem To Change

Part 2: Perth’s perennial prodigies PMX discuss their plans for 2018, X-Factor auditions and lament the loss of Myspace.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Yesterday, in the first instalment of our 2-part interview with PMX, we got an exclusive look at their history as a band. Check out the article for all the ups and downs that coming of age in the skate-punk scene brings.

As we learned, PMX have been going for over 20 years, although that did include a hiatus and a few variations in their line-up. 2017 has been an especially busy year for them and 2018 is shaping up to be even bigger.

They have just announced the release of a single-session live album, Clochridgestone, on February 26th, the aim of which is to the fund the recording of a full-length studio album later in the year. They’re playing a run of dates with Actionmen in February (including one put on by Shout Louder on February 2nd at The Smokehouse in Ipswich), a handful of festivals, plus a jealous-making jaunt to Japan.

To get us up to speed, singer and guitarist John Harcus and I discussed how they’ve changed and what they have planned for the future.

Your priorities must have changed a lot since you got started 20 years ago. When you first started out as a band, what was your main aim?

To be honest, Pmx has always been about having fun and that priority has not changed to this day. We have always strived to better ourselves as musicians and get our music out there to like-minded individuals who enjoy the music we enjoy playing. It’s always been that way.

What would you say is your main priority for the band now?

To last another 20 years!

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What’s been the highlight of your musical career?

Too many to mention. I’ll put my X-Factor audition at the bottom of that list! We have been lucky enough to play alongside some of our favourite bands and tour in places we never thought we would ever see, let alone play in. We hope to extend that list in coming years.

Hang on, X-Factor auditon?!

Long story short, when I was playing solo my mate Tom filmed this rad video of me playing two of my tracks live (below). At somepoint in 2012 I was emailed by some A&R type who saw the video, asking if I would like to come to London to play my tracks to some music producers at Sony Music. There wasn’t really much more info than that other than it could be for publishing, performing or TV.

I went, and when I got there found myself at the Sony Offices. They took me to this casting couch setup where I played live to them and they asked if I would be interested in going for auditions for X Factor. I thought, “Fuck it, you only live once”, so I went to the Free Mantle Media/Syco Offices, did the audition, then fucked off. Never heard from them again! Continue reading “PMX Interview #2: Some Things Always Seem To Change”

PMX Interview #1: 20 Years of Skate-Punk History

Part 1: Scottish skate-punk legends PMX share their history – embarrassing haircuts, namedrops and hangovers ahoy!

Interview by Sarah Williams.

PMX are overwhelmingly good at what they do: they’ve got melodic mass appeal mixed with the technical aspects of hardcore, infused with a refreshing dose of Scottish humour. Watching them live in the past has left me a little bit awestruck.

I have not been able to take their most recent EP Dark Days off repeat (seriously, it’s getting embarrassing). The band add clever, technical guitar runs and drum fills into songs without overly showing off and, more importantly, without detracting from the accessible appeal of the vocals and song structures. It’s catchy as fuck.

That being said, PMX are somewhat of an enigma to me. Their live shows are like gold dust and it’s been over two years since their last release.

Their reclusive nature makes sense when you consider how long the band has been together. Looking at PMX now, it’s hard to believe that they have been going for over 20 years. They’re still young enough and their sound is vibrant, relevant and forever growing. I suppose that’s what happens when you get started at 14 years old; they have the experience of veteran musicians but they’re still very much in tune current releases.

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I was lucky enough to catch up with singer and guitarist John Harcus to learn more about this mysterious powerhouse of a band. In Part Two you can read about the new tunes they’re writing and the live dates they’ve got planned. Firstly, though, you can learn exactly how you manage to keep a band together for over 20 years…

PMX have been a band since 1997. How the hell have you managed that?

Hey Sarah! How’s it going? Good question! To answer that in full I’ll have to cast my mind back through countless clouds of purple haze and a copious amount of hangovers. I’ll give you some of our backstory/history to put it all into perspective. Matt, our bro Paul and I started Pmx back in high school. We originally called ourselves PMT (Pre-Musical-Tension. Shite, eh?) and recorded our first record as a 3-piece back in 1998.

It consisted of nine tracks that ripped off Kerplunk by Green Day with a hint of Nirvana‘s Nevermind. We didn’t know if we were grunge or punk so we did a bit of both!

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A year later, after countless shows around the Perth and Dundee area, our friend Danny joined on second guitar. Our influences were quickly changing as we started listening to bands such as NOFX, The Offspring and Lagwagon.

We recorded a four track E.P. in 1999 titled The Stroppy Bitch Project. It was the start of us experimenting with more technical and faster songs. Around that time we competed in numerous battles of the bands and started gigging further afield.

 

By 2000, our sound had become what is now considered skate-punk and we recorded our third EP titled Goodbye Normality. This was our first attempt at playing double-time punk rock that the Fat Wreck Chords influence had bestowed upon us.

Around 2001, we played our first mini tour down in London, started getting quality support slots at Glasgow’s metal/rock club, The Cathouse, with Household Name Records bands and international touring bands and generally playing as many gigs as possible.

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Our fourth E.P. was in the bag by 2002. It featured the very first version of our track PmxTV from our first album Rise and Shine and was the start of us trolling the internet far and wide, pushing our music on any guestbook or chat forum possible.

In 2003/2004 I started recording a twelve track demo of Rise and Shine from home. During that period we played alongside bands like as Captain Everything, Five Knuckle, Skirtbox, Route 215, King Prawn and loads more. These were bands that we very much looked up to. While playing a mini tour with Route 215 from London, their lead singer, Rod, told me how much he loved our track Rockstar and basically said, “I’m going to let our label boss hear this shit and get you guys signed.” Continue reading “PMX Interview #1: 20 Years of Skate-Punk History”

Darko: One Year on from Bonsai Mammoth [Interview]

We speak to Rob Piper of Darko / Lockjaw Records about their intentions for 2018 and their sterling album Bonsai Mammoth, ahead of its first anniversary.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

If you have haplessly stumbled across Shout Louder in the past, you may have heard us mention Darko once or twice. They were our Album of The Year 2017, one of the top acts at Punk Rock Holiday and a lot of other shows. Okay, so maybe we’re a little obsessed with them. Shuttup.

We love them enough that we have convinced them to play our birthday party (Feb 2nd at The Smokehouse in Ipswich) as a warm up for their album anniversary party on February 3rd. They are throwing a big shindig at The Boileroom in Guildford to celebrate a year since the release of their incredible melodic hardcore opus Bonsai Mammoth.

Darko have been around for quite a few years and have always struck me as one of the most talented, hardworking and savvy bands in the scene. Their recordings and their live shows are delivered with stark in-the-moment passion, but there’s an intellectual undercurrent that shines in many of their lyrics and their complex compositions.

To get to know them a bit better, I spoke to guitarist Rob Piper, who also looks after the infamous Lockjaw Records, home to some impressive punk and hardcore acts.

It’s nearly a year since you released Bonsai Mammoth. I’m sure I’m not the only one to put it in my top picks of 2017. How have you found the reaction to it?

Well firstly, thanks loads for your support and kind words about the record; it means alot to know people are enjoying the album. This year has flown past. We’ve had a lot of fun touring the new tracks, hearing people’s reactions and seeing people sing or scream along with us.

Darko had been together for a long time before Bonsai Mammoth, so it feels like success has been a slow burn for you. Do you think there was a particular turning point for the band?

For me I think the biggest success with Darko was finding four other members that can put up with each others shit and share the same ‘can do’ attitude to just go for it, unphased by how popular the genre is, just doing it because we love playing our music live. When we first started the band I had no idea we would be touring Japan and touring to Greece and back. Since releasing our very first EP in 2010, we have hit lots of milestones which I would class as successes. I think myself fortunate for the experiences we have shared and hopefully will share in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

Where did the title Bonsai Mammoth come from?

From what I remember, the original phrase was coined on one of the many long van journeys across mainland europe, most probably scooting the autobahn. A plethora of seemingly random phrases and noises are produced from the cabin on these journeys. A lot of it is bollocks but some is thought provoking and meaningful… In some opinions.

With Sea of Trees, Bonsai Mammoth and a lot of the lyrical content in a lot of your songs, there seems to be an underlying nature theme. Is that a deliberate choice? If not, why do you think that theme comes across?

From Trust to Conformity and the Sea of Trees EP both follow a concept which involves nature versus machine, so I’d say it was more intentional in those two records than the full length. Nature is a such an epic spectrum; it encompasses the reasons why we are alive and how we interact with the earth. I think it’s important for all of us in the band to recognise this and, when writing, it makes sense to use nature to help describe scenes and relay emotions with metaphors. I think each of our personal ecosystems can be compared to the planet and being aware to treat ourselves with respect, as we need to do to the world, to try and avoid the heavy pressures causing poor health. Continue reading “Darko: One Year on from Bonsai Mammoth [Interview]”

Random Hand: Can’t Stop Changing Plans [Interview]

Joe Tilston discusses Random Hand’s hiatus, their return to the stage and what they’ve been plotting in the meantime!

Interview by Sarah Williams. Photos nicked from Bev, from RH’s ‘last’ Manchester show.

It is hard to measure the impact that Random Hand have had on my life. They’ve been going since 2002, but I think I stumbled across them in 2007 when I first heard Scum Triumphant. They were one of the first small bands that I became properly obsessed with, so therefore they became my gateway into DIY. Literally, this website would not exist if Random Hand hadn’t been there to kick-start my gig addiction. I also wouldn’t own half as many sweat-encrusted band t-shirts.

For many years, Random Hand were one of the most explosive bands in UK ska-punk. Back in 2015 they announced that they were going on hiatus for a couple of years. Although they never used the words ‘break-up’ themselves, there was uproar in the punk community and many promoters billed their farewell tour as their last ever gigs. The news was especially shocking coming from a band who were a mainstay of the live circuit. No matter how many gigs they played, they always gave 110%, guaranteeing the best loud, sweaty and raucous performances you could wish for.

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The news of the hiatus was delivered alongside a crowd-funding campaign for a self-released album as a farewell gift to their fans. Hit Reset dropped on 13th September 2015, just as they came off stage at their final, incendiary gig at The Camden Underworld. The album was an unusual parting gift (particularly as they weren’t playing it live) and an opportunity to record with the final iteration of their line-up.

Robin Leitch (vocals/trombone), Joe Tilston (bass), Dan Walsh (guitar) and Sean Howe (drums) recently announced that they would be reuniting in 2018. Their first gig back is in their home town of Leeds, followed quickly by Manchester Punk Festival. They are also releasing their first album Change of Plan on vinyl via TNS Records. It’s a gorgeous red record, encased in an updated version of Si Mitchell’s classic artwork, due for release on February 9th.

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I sat down with Joe Tilston to discuss their plans for the new year and to get some insight into why they left us in the first place.

Random Hand are back! Why now?

We were very honest about it being a hiatus. I know some promoters weren’t quite as honest and said it was our last gig on occasions, but on our social media statuses and at every gig we always said it was a hiatus. It’s a break. If anyone asked anything beyond that we said, “We need two years off.” That was the watershed; having two years off and seeing where that took us.

It literally ticked over two years. I was on the phone to Robin just after he’d finished one of the projects he was working on and we said, “Shall we have a practice then?” That was it, really! It was one week less than two years that we had our first practice back. I think we all just needed the head space. We needed to let it go, not think about it and become our own people. Continue reading “Random Hand: Can’t Stop Changing Plans [Interview]”

Interview: Shoreline on German Punk, UK Tours and Their New EP

We talk to German melodic punks, Shoreline, about the Münster punk scene, what it’s like touring the UK and the release of their new record.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Shoreline are a melodic punk band from Münster, Germany. They are due to release their debut EP You Used To Be A Safe Place on 19th January 2018 via Uncle M Records. They’re celebrating by touring Germany with Great Collapse plus a stint in the UK, including dates in Manchester, London, Nottingham, Cardiff and Worcester.

I’m a huge fan of You Used To Be A Safe Place already. It will appeal to fans of angsty melodic indie-punk like The Menzingers and Gnarwolves although it’s got a gritty quality to it that only a smaller band can deliver. The current single Breakfast (at 5pm) is a memorable little tune with brighter guitars and a grittier vocal; it gives me flash-foward fantasties of jostling sweatily through a drunken crowd at The Fighting Cocks, singing along at the top of my lungs. The final track on the EP, Silent Friend, has future-anthem written all over it. It’s so close to Cavalcade-era Flatliners that I’ve struggled to stop listening to it.

Shoreline You Used To Be A Safe Place Interview

I always think that a band travelling from the European mainland to tour the UK is a good sign – it’s not easy to get bookings, so they tend to know what they’re doing both musically and within the DIY scene. We spoke to singer/guitarist Hansol Seung about the Münster punk scene, the differences in touring the UK vs. Mainland Europe and their new release.

Hi Hansol! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for having me.

Tell us a bit about the band. How did you get started?

We started the band in fall 2015. At first it was just Julius [guitar/vocals] and me [guitar/vocals]. I think we met through some weird Facebook students group, in a comment section about our music taste, where he’s listed some of my favourite bands. We eventually met at shows and became friends – that was around 2014, I think. We were always talking about starting a really fast-paced, melodic punk rock band, just like NOFX or The Flatliners.

We searched for a drummer for such a long time, it was mental. We finally found one in Martin, who was playing in his old band Words Ring True back then. To be honest, we’d known each other for quite a while! I even filled in on bass for them once or twice, but it took a while for us to ask him if he wanted to join us. He seemed really busy with Words Ring True and Julius and I were looking for someone who would dedicate as much time as we would, rather than seeing our band as sort of a side project. Turned out Martin was ready to do so and ever since then he has put so much effort into Shoreline that we’ve never ever questioned his dedication for this project.

Tobias, our bassist was the last one to join us. I knew him from university, since we shared a lot of the same lectures. He wasn´t too much into punk rock back then, but it came together nicely ever since the first rehearsal.

 

 

 

I’ve never been to Münster. What’s the punk scene like there?

The punk scene in Münster is awesome. There are so many bands and people creating things, promoters and people who dig this kind of music. Most of the bands of our genre know each other; we´re all friends really. A lot of the bands also tour a lot and get themselves out there. I think I have hung out with Michel from Hal Johnson in sweaty DIY Venues all over Europe. I´d say there are few cities in Germany or in Europe in general (that I personally know of) that have such a personal, close and flourishing punk scene like Münster has. We are really fortunate to be a part of it. Continue reading “Interview: Shoreline on German Punk, UK Tours and Their New EP”