Sweet Diego: “Past Regrets, Staying Hopeful and Accepting Your Flaws”[Interview]

Mark speaks to Diana of Sweet Diego about their new EP, their inspirations and where the band is headed in 2018.

Interview by Mark Bartlett.

Sweet Diego are a new West Midlands-based band, who play pop-punk with a wry, Brit-pop slant to it. Their excellent second EP The After Party is out right now and they’re playing Dügstock on Easter Sunday. Shout Louder’s Mark Bartlett spoke to lead singer Diana Nguyễn to discuss the new EP, their inspirations and where the band is headed in 2018.

What’s the origin story of Sweet Diego and where did the name come from?

Before I joined Sweet Diego I was writing songs solo on my acoustic guitar, but I was too shy to share them online. Singing was a secret hobby of mine at the time but I found it extremely difficult to write songs on my own because I only knew a few guitar chords, which meant that all my songs were either really short or incomplete. It frustrated me that I had so many ideas but couldn’t put them together, so one day I decided that I wanted to collaborate with people. I spent some time online searching for musicians who had similar music tastes to form either a duo or a band and it was a crazy journey for me, but I met some amazing people along the way.

After some trial and error, I finally came across Mitch (our bassist) who was looking for a lead singer to join their trio, who were previously a five-piece named The Real Quaid. We exchanged demos and found that our writing styles and tastes in music were very different. I love listening to punk rock but I had never written a punk rock song before, however I instantly vibed with one of their tracks. So I wrote lyrics to it, recorded it on my laptop, named it 40 (which was later changed to Kabigon on our first EP, Kong’s Little Finger) and sent it over to Mitch who digged it and booked our first practice. I was anxious that it was going to be super awkward, but they were all so hilarious and we kicked off to a great start. Prior to Sweet Diego, I had never performed on stage or recorded music in a studio before, so I’m very thankful for the all of the amazing experiences that I’ve shared with these guys; they truly are some of my favourite people.

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

Performing in Sweet Diego has helped me gain more confidence over time. I only used to send songs to a few of my friends but now I’ve started sharing some of my solo work online, which was a huge step for me. I post short covers and originals on my Instagram in my spare time, which is a lot different to Sweet Diego’s music – it’s much slower and emo. Continue reading “Sweet Diego: “Past Regrets, Staying Hopeful and Accepting Your Flaws”[Interview]”

Exclusive Stream: Money Left To Burn ‘Vs’ The Affect Heuristic

Don’t miss this sneak peek of Lockjaw Records’ freshest melodic hardcore release!

We are immensely excited to give you an exclusive first listen to the new split from melodic hardcore aficionados Money Left To Burn and The Affect Heuristic. We were utterly blown away the first time we heard it so we couldn’t wait to share it with you.

VS is due for release on Lockjaw Records on Saturday 24th March, however you should pre-order it today to ensure you get two exclusive free gifts with your record!

Until now, the free gifts have been top secret, however we are pleased to reveal that all CDs pre-ordered from Lockjaw with be sent with a poster of Mark Bell’s incredible album artwork (who wouldn’t want that on their wall?) and *drumroll please* two variations of super-hot sauce handmade by Cedric from The Affect Heuristic! The marvelously named Bernie Bumhole hot sauce is totally vegan, so suitable for anyone who likes obliterating heat. You don’t get free hot sauce unless you pre-order the album so don’t hang about!

If hot sauce isn’t enough of a draw and you actually, God forbid, give more of a fuck about the music, then I can assure that VS is easily the most exciting record I’ve heard so far this year. It’s a ten-track melodic hardcore tour de force. It’s the third offering from Nuremberg’s finest skate-punks Money Left To Burn and the first recording from exciting new Belgian/Scottish act The Affect Heuristic. It’s aggressive, high-octane and very melodic. You’re going to love it.

It’s hard to explain why I’ve been so excited to hear new music from The Affect Heuristic, but I’ve been on tenterhooks for this record since it was first announced. Maybe it’s their intriguing choice of name, their unusual Belgian and Scottish origins or the fact they’re already part of Lockjaw’s legendary roster. Whichever it is, the first taste of their progressive/metallic take on melodic hardcore does not disappoint.

Without further ado, wrap your ears around these two exclusive tunes:

Continue reading “Exclusive Stream: Money Left To Burn ‘Vs’ The Affect Heuristic”

Gig Review: Only Strangers’ Album Launch @ The Pilgrim’s Pit [03/03/2018]

We visit Stoke-On-Trent to celebrate Only Strangers new album, with support from Rising Strike and The Kirkz.

Article by Sarah Williams.

I admit, I was sceptical about travelling to Stoke-On-Trent for a gig on a Saturday night. It’s not exacty known as a hive of musical activity. Fortunately, I was proved completely wrong – I wound up enjoying one of those fleeting gig experiences that you can never recreate.

The Pilgrim’s Pit is an unusual space: esoteric artwork and a ‘city of culture’ sign adorn the exposed brick; UV lighting makes your teeth glow like rave-yard tombstones; bunting and model aeroplanes hang from the ceiling. The room has just enough space for thirty audience members, with barely room for the drumkit against the back wall. The bands stand on the concrete floor like the rest of us – no stages or barriers here.

Even without the intimacy of the venue, this would be a special evening. It’s the launch of Only Strangers’ self titled debut album, a truly high-quality record that they’ve invested two years in making (read our review here). They’re ready to share it with the world for the first time, so they’ve invited a handful of friends and family along to the show. I’m sure they could pack out a bigger venue given the chance, but they’ve chosen to celebrate in their hometown with select few. Playing with them are some of their close friends, who happen to be two classic TNS bands: indestructible Macc’ lads The Kirkz and a ska-core assault from Rising Strike.

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The Kirkz are on first, filling the room with their nu-metal infused, hooky hardcore. It’s classic TNS fare that sounds just as hard as ever. They open with Zombie Nation and it’s impossible not to get into the catchy chorus on Tanks and Machinery. The room stays stubbornly sub-zero despite all the bodies congregating into confined space. Max, unmistakable Captain of The Kirkz, roams energetically around in the small gap in front of the mic stands, pausing between songs to instruct people to mime the T-sign at him if they need to get past to use the toilet. A slight downside to the lack of elbowroom is that there’s little definition between the guitars and vocals (which miraculously improves in time for Only Strangers, like it was some sort of plot), but it’s a fresh and raucous set that buzzes with energy. The Kirkz remain a stone cold classic act; it’s a great start to the evening. Continue reading “Gig Review: Only Strangers’ Album Launch @ The Pilgrim’s Pit [03/03/2018]”

Podcast #2: Dinosaurs and Drunken Disasters

Dinosaurs, songs to go down to, regrettable drunken incidents and the origins of a rubber skull. Episode 2 available now!

Episode 2 of the Shout Louder Podcast is now available! You can now find it on iTunes and Soundcloud, or you can listen through the link below.

What’s Sarah’s most regrettable drunk-at-a-gig incident? What’s Mark’s ‘death song’? What’s the deal with Dugstock’s Dug mascot? What’s Mark’s favourite dinosaur? You will soon find out.

We’ve got music from PMX, Stabbed In Back, Aerial Salad, Lesdystics and Harsh Realms. We talk in detail about Dugstock 2 (Umlaut Records’ 3-day festival over the Easter Weekend). Mark finds a decent song to go down to. Sarah gets overly excited, plays some random songs and misprounces a lot of words.

Sarah talks about a gig she recently attended at The Old Courts in Wigan, with Speed Dinosaurs, The Mighty Bossmags, Fair Do’s, Roughneck Riot and The Crash Mats. Mark gives a concise, organised description of his current Top 5 favourite bands, while Sarah goes off on a variety of unnecessary tangents. Mark convinces Sarah to share the drunkest gig incident she most regrets (spoiler: we’re not talking about Punk Rock Holiday, let’s forget that night ever happened). Here’s a clue:

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Thank you so much for your amazing feedback on #1, it’s great to hear that so many of your enjoyed the podcast. Keep telling us what you want; we love hearing from you.

Give it a listen, give it a share and give us a shout! Let us know what you think.

The podcast is available on iTunes and all good podcatchers. Please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast – it helps to promote the show and so that other listeners can find it.

This episode features the following tracks:

Please do give us your feedback! Let us know what you liked the most and what we could do better, so that we can keep making the podcast better for you in future.

We have some super exciting stuff coming up on the next to episodes – we’ve got two big, exclusive announcements and heaps of new tunes. We’re working to get some guests involved for #5 onwards, so watch this space.

Ducking Punches: Half Dead From Exhaustion But Stronger Than Ever [Interview]

Dan Allen, frontman of Norwich’s premier folk/alt-rockers, discusses Alamort, mental health and creativity.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

If you’ve not heard Ducking Punches‘ new album Alamort yet, you’re missing out. It’s eleven songs that are reliably epic, anthemic and instantly appealing. It’s drawn comparisons with Frank Turner, Apologies, I Have None and more traditional folk/rock influences, but I believe that Ducking Punches have carved out a genuinely unique sound that only they could possibly achieve.

Ducking Punches started as Dan Allen’s solo project, after his old band parted ways. Nowadays they’re a powerful five-piece on their fourth studio album. Dan still plays solo shows under the same name and many of the lyrical themes rely on his open-hearted personal experiences, but the full-band performance is utterly magical. Hearing the group grow and flourish over the years has been impressive, never moreso than on Alamort.

We caught a few minutes to ask Dan some quite serious questions about the challenges presented by the new record, how he’s developed as a song writer and how his creativity helps to manage his anxiety.

You’ve recently released Alamort, your fourth studio album. Tell us a bit more about the meaning of the title, and how you got to that feeling!

It’s an old archaic word translating to being ‘half dead from exhaustion’. It kind of summed up a difficult year for all of us and we wanted to embrace the fact that we’d crawled over the line, still intact.

A lot of Alamort sound like your emotions are pouring out through your guitar and some of the songs are a lot more hardcore than your earlier output. How cathartic did you find the writing/recording process to be?

It’s the most cathartic and honest album to date, I feel like that was necessary. We are always trying to evolve our sound on every record and these are the kind of songs I’ve wanted to write since I started Ducking Punches.

Was the writing and recording process any different for you on this record to what you’ve experienced in the past?

A little, in the fact there is zero acoustic guitar on the new record. I really enjoyed writing with an electric guitar again and being able to explore that sonically. As a band it was a pretty collaborative effort too, which makes for a more exciting album in my opinion.

What was most challenging about creating the album?

The subject matter was pretty challenging, however the rest of it all came together so easily. It was a joy to work on. Continue reading “Ducking Punches: Half Dead From Exhaustion But Stronger Than Ever [Interview]”

LineOut: Italian Punks On A Quick UK Jaunt [Interview]

We spoke to Italian skate-punks LineOut ahead of their short UK tour.

Article by Sarah Williams.

I always get excited when I see band on a bill who’ve travelled from another country. It is often a chance to discover a new act and usually they turn out to be the best on the line-up. Inviting bands from mainland Europe to play the best way to bring new talent and inspiration to our local music scene. I’ve also got a lot of respect for bands like LineOut for making the effort to visit us for a couple of days – it’s a lot harder to get here from Milan than it is to sit staring at the M6!

LineOut are a band I’d heard plenty of good things about, but it wasn’t until they announced their current run of UK dates that I realised I hadn’t actually listened to them. I was impressed to find an energetic mix of punk, melodic hardcore and thrash that ticked all of my boxes.

Knowing that I would be seeing them at Shredfest this Saturday as well as at Punk Rock Holiday in the summer, I was keen to find out more. I was lucky enough to catch up with singer/guitarist Andrea Codini just in time for the tour.

 I was hoping you could give us an introduction to the band, for those who may be less familiar with you. What can people expect from your live shows?

We will make sure that it’s not a boring show, for you! We always try to put a mix of songs into the set list, to cover all different styles. Everything from punk rock, to metal, to funk! We’re not the kind of band to play all the same style of songs.

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Who are your biggest influences?

In the underground scene we’re big fans of Mute, Satanic Surfers, Atlas Losing Grip and Discomostro. We love skate-punk that mixes with solid riffs and 80’s hard rock influences. The biggest names that have influenced us would probably be Pennywise, Iron Maiden and Lagwagon. They helped us make our path.

You released an album last year – Blast in Turbigo. Is Turbigo the part of Milan you’re based in?

Exactly, it’s the name of our hometown. It’s a small and cosy village that is unfortunately very close-minded and obsessive with religious stuff. On our album every song talks about a corner of the city and tries to push people to go beyond the borders of Turbigo.

What was best about recording and touring the album? Does it differ to your earlier releases?

Luckily, it’s always been pretty much the same over the years. We were friends before starting the band, so it’s cool to get to spend time together, see new places and forget, for a while, about all the duties and issues that you’ve got at work or home. It’s a great way to positively escape from reality. We try to change the place and the way we record or every album, so that we don’t get bored. Continue reading “LineOut: Italian Punks On A Quick UK Jaunt [Interview]”

Album Review: Nosebleed – Scratching Circles On The Dancefloor

Leed’s sharpest dressed garage punks, Nosebleed, are making a rock ‘n’ roll racket and they’re dragging you along for the ride.

Review by Sarah Williams.

If I had to criticise the previous two Nosebleed releases, their Something In My Head and It’s Alright EPs, I’d have to say that there’s simply not enough of them. This trio from Leeds have a talent for writing short, energetic punk ‘n’ roll ditties, enough to get the soberest of crowds cavorting madly around a dancefloor. If you do not want 22 minutes of solid gold hits then Nosebleed are not the band for you.

The problem with having a reputation for electrifying live performances, as Nosebleed have been building for themselves since 2014, is that the recorded equivalent is often a bit of a damp squib. That’s far from the case with their debut album Scratching Circles On The Dancefloor (up for preorder from TNS now). This record will have you jiving in your bedroom, in your kitchen, in your car, at the bus stop and spinning round on your office chair until your boss yells at you. Scratching Circles transports Nosebleed straight into your home, like Dickie’s set up his drum kit on your sofa, Ben’s stomping on your coffee table and Eliott’s spitting lyrics at your face while you try to calmly sip your morning brew.

There is a lot of new material on the album, plus some recycled hits from the previous releases. Reworking a handful of songs works in this context; Nosebleed are the kind of band who become even more appealing when you are familiar with the words, so opening the album with I’m Okay is the perfect way to draw the audience in. If you’ve seen Nosebleed live then you will already be a fan of Time And Time Again, Psycho and I Can’t Tell You Anything. Good news: the re-recorded/re-mastered versions are even more killer. The production’s got a lot more depth, richness and clarity that makes a world of difference.

 

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The first new track is I’m Shaking which sets the scene for the lo-fi garage punk party we’ve dived into. There’s a lot of twangy rock ‘n’ roll riffs followed by grittier palm muted sections. Through the whole album, every single guitar solo makes you bust into a silly grin: this is proper, dirty punk ‘n’ roll just the way you like it. Continue reading “Album Review: Nosebleed – Scratching Circles On The Dancefloor”