EP Review: Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men – Some Of These People Have Come From Stoke

Tim Loud and Revenge of The Psychotronic Man translate a drunken idea into a beautiful reality.

Review by Sarah Williams.

Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men’s little EP Some of These People Have Come From Stoke is one of those marvellous bits of nonsense that make the DIY punk scene the best place to be.

The EP is a three-song collaboration between Revenge of The Psychotronic Man (famous for delivering ridiculously fast, fun noise) and Tim Loud (famous for fronting long-dead aggro-folks Bootscraper, and for his own antifolk solo material). Whilst on tour in April they drunkenly decided that a joint recording would be a great idea; the result is three quite different tracks, reflecting their individual tastes rather than their normal musical output. It’s a rollicking ride through punk rock mayhem, and it’ll be a great gem to look back on in years to come.

The EP opens with an Alan Partridge quote that explains the title, although it’s also a nod to Tim Loud and (drummer) Big Hands’ Stoke heritage. The first track The Queen is Dead, Long Live The King Singers is pretty classic, catchy anti-establishment punk, talking about knocking people off their pedestals. 

The second track Oh Yeah, Motorcycle is all hair metal, with a huge doom-laden build-up that’s every bit Motorhead. The song descends into some shreddery before returning to the heavy introductory riff, closing on a decrescendo of feedback and distortion. It’s masses of fun to sing-along to the lyrically profound chorus, “Ooooooohh yeeaaah, motorcycle!” although the song’s actually about what wankers motorcyclists can be. This is premium pit-fodder, and I really hope Revenge start playing this one live. 

The third and final track Sensible Party is a return to a fuzzier punk rock format, although it’s still got plenty of rock ‘n’ roll guitar licks. The clear highlights of this song are the brilliant tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “If you’re still here then grab a coffee son, the party has only just begun,” or, “If it’s too busy we’ll find a fucking book and hide.” One almost gets the impression that these guys may not be inclinded to have a ‘sensible’ party as they’re so virtuously proclaiming. This is my new favourite party anthem, and it’s been firmly lodged in my head for over a week. Continue reading “EP Review: Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men – Some Of These People Have Come From Stoke”

Gig Review: The JB Conspiracy @ The Waterfront [09/11/2017]

The JB Conspiracy play This Machine in full to celebrate 10 years since its release, at The Waterfront in Norwich.

Reven by Sarah Williams.

When The JB Conspiracy announced that would be touring to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of This Machine I nearly fell of my chair.

Have I seriously been listening to This Machine for 10 whole years? God knows how many times I’ve played it. It was on constant repeat through most of 2008-10 for me and I regularly revisit it. I can honestly say that it is one of my favourite albums of all time, and certainly one of the only releases from 10 years ago that I still feel is every bit as relevant now as it was then.

The record has a timeless quality that has enabled it to surpass many of the other albums of it’s time. Although they’re a ska punk band, it’s an awful lot more than that. The instrumentation is second to none; there’s a huge amount of intelligence and love that’s gone into all of the parts, especially the sterling horn section. They keep a dancing pace throughout the record that’s impossible to resist. This eight-piece from London have been going for an awfully long time and they’re still just as lively as ever.

Before the show I run into Bobble (of Faintest Idea fame) and ask him how the tour is going so far, as he’s playing trombone with The JB. “I get to play This Machine every single night!” he says, “Every night! This is the best thing ever!”

JB Conspiracy This Machine Tour

I amble into The Waterfront in Norwich just as Jim Higgs is starting his set. He’s got a roster of heartfelt pop songs, which he accompanies with some springy acoustic guitar. He’s got a delightfully smooth voice to go with it, and throws a Dido cover into a set filled with appealing original tunes.

Local three-piece Other Half are up next. When I picked up their album earlier this year it quickly jumped up the list of my favourite recent releases, so I’ve been quite excited to see them live again. It’s angsty, atmospheric indie-punk with a brilliant blend of male and female vocals, very much on par with bands like Hard Girls.

Disaster strikes at the end of the first song when Cal’s guitar string breaks, starting off a quite hilarious series of quips and tales of awkwardness. “Mr Soundman,” Cal asks, “Can I turn up the distortion on my guitar to hide all the mistakes?” He asks bassist, Sophie, to fill in on the talking while he tunes up. She he looks discomforted by this prospect, but she goes on to tell us a story of how bad her day has gone, which has the entire audience in stitches. Their stage presence is delightfully awkward and works perfectly with their moody, introspective sound. The highlight of their set is Misery Movement, the title track from their album, which I recommend you all check out.

Tree House Fire are on tour with The JB Conspiracy, and you can tell they’re super-comfortable and played in. It’s by far the tightest I have ever seen them; their show is slick and proffesional. They incorporate a lot of samples and backing-tracks with synthetic horns into their dub-reggae performance, throwing in the odd rave-horn for good measure. They’ve clearly put a lot of work and planning into their set and it really pays off. The vocal is incredibly smooth, and the mood is incredibly sunny for a wet November evening.

The audience is a little sparse and static for the beginning of the night, but it really starts to heat up during Tree House Fire. My only slight criticism would be that the set might be a little too honed for a Wednesday night attic show in Norwich. They deserve to be getting out on tour with a band like The Bennies or playing to huge warmed-up festival audiences; they would excel in front of a giant party crowd.

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As The JB Conspiracy are preparing to hit the stage, the audience seems to significantly grow. This Machine is a somewhat legendary album in the ska punk scene, and there’s clearly a lot of excitement about getting to hear it played in full. As they build into the opening bars of the title track everything kicks off – a maul of 30-something ska punks ready to party like they’re 20-something ska punks. Everyone’s singing along and punching the air for every chorus, mimicking the brass sections and throwing elbows and boots around the keep up with the bouncy upstrokes.

They run through the album in order, apart from a few protracted bars of Drop Your Anchor thrown in to confuse us at the beginning of The Manhattan Project. There are songs like that and The Patriot that I don’t think I’ve ever heard them play live before – it’s unbelievably exciting. It’s during The Patriot (a slower number) that there’s the irresistable call for a human pyramid, which the band later congratulate us on. The whole set is a showcase for some of the best brass playing in the DIY scene; they’ve got all the skill and clever composition of a big brass band, but political sensibilities to transform it into a riot that would appeal to any punk fan.

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Singer and guitarist, Lank, doesn’t say a great deal, but he gets an huge laugh for saying, “Please everybody check out our Myspace page.” He also gives us a few snippets of background on the band: how the song Superhero was inspired by some internet bullshit and how the band were already playing when they were in school in 1999. He briefly mentions their previous ‘90’s ska-punk incarnation, Duff Muffin, inspiring a huge cheer from the audience, before disappointingly having to warn everyone that they’re not actually going to play any Duff Muffin songs. However, for the encore, they do treat us to a 90’s ska punk tune in the form of Less Than Jake’s Scott Farcas Takes It On The Chin. They close out the show with The Escape from their second album, The Storm. The final highlight of the evening comes in their exit music for leaving the stage – the jangly key sample used on the secret track at the end of This Machine – a really beautiful touch.

It’s been a brilliant, exciting evening. I want to say it’s been nostalgic because we’ve been celebrating a 10 year old album, but This Machine has never felt old to me. Even tonight, The JB Conspiracy feel just as alive and vibrant as they did 10 years ago.

 

It’s not too late to catch the end of the This Machine tour – this week The JB Conspiracy play Plymouth tonight and Bristol tomorrow culminating in a London show on November 17th. You can also pick up This Machine on vinyl for the first time ever, in a lovely shiny blue.

Punk Rock Weddings Special: Claire & Craig [Part 3 of 3]

Part 3: Claire and Craig get hitched at Punk Rock Bowling Festival in Las Vegas, then celebrate with some amazing bands!

Feature by Sarah Williams.

Welcome to Part Three of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender! In our final instalment, we talk to Claire Core and Craig McGarry, who got hitched at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas. They’re huge punk enthusiasts and regulars at many of the big gigs around the country. Although they live only a few miles from Shout Louder HQ in Suffolk, I run into them more often at events like MPF, Wonkfest and Rebellion.

Craig’s originally from Rochdale, whereas Claire’s born and bred in Suffolk. They are one of the most heartwarmingly lovely couples you could possibly imagine; whenever I see then they’re utterly enamoured with one another. The story of how they got together is beautiful and, after meeting at a punk festival, it seems only fitting that they should get married at one too.

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Firstly, tell me a bit about yourselves. How did you first get into punk?

  • Claire: My sister and cousins got me into punk when I was 7 years old and it’s always been a big part of who I am.  I have a huge love for punk in all its forms and really enjoy discovering a new favourite band.  Current favourites include Pears, who never fail to exhilarate live, Pizzatramp, Direct Hit! and, of course, I’m a huge Wonker.
  • Craig: I got into punk and metal when I was in high school, hanging out with friends skating and going to the odd gig here and there. There was a punk night locally that we went to regularly as getting served was a cinch. Loved it all since then. I’m a huge Misfits fan and an unashamed AFI devotee. I’ve also got a bit of a thing for most psychobilly as well as with celtic or folk punk.

You guys have had a fairly speedy advance through this love stuff. That’s no bad thing! Talk us through how you met.

  • Claire:  It was at Manchester Punk Festival 2016 after the bands at the Zombie Shack.  Craig was bouncing around trying to make everyone have MORE FUN, as he is inclined to do, and I propositioned him.  I liked his dance moves and his big daft face.

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How did your relationship grow from there?

  • Craig: Well, after spending a blissful long MPF weekend together, we kept in contact and met up a few times over the following weeks. It soon became apparent that we were both head-over-heels for each other. The long distance thing wasn’t going to be good enough for too long. We both recognized that we were each in the right place for a proper lovely full-blown relationship and didn’t want to spend time away from each other if we didn’t have to. So I packed up and moved down to Suffolk.
  • Claire:  Yep, you can’t sustain long distance without complete openness about how you feel plus an end goal to close the distance.  We were originally expecting it to take longer for Craig to find a job locally but that happened really fast, and it just felt right.  He moved in between Wonkfest and Rebellion!

When did you get engaged?

  • Claire:  Valentines 2017. Awwww, I know, right? My birthday is the day after, so I was nicely surprised that Craig treated me to a night away but I wasn’t at all suspicious.  In fact a proposal couldn’t have been further from my mind. We had both admitted neither of us had any interest in marriage and I was all ‘marriage is slavery, antiquated nonsense…’ But then in a Gin Bar he was down on one knee with this diamond ring with little skulls on, trying to propose above the sound of me going, “What’s going on? What are you doing? Is this for real?” Then I said yes and started to cry and we got free prosecco with gin in it.  Tasted rank but hey, free booze.
  • Craig: This after months of me insisting “No, I never want to get married” and “No, I am never going to propose”. I really had to work to keep it a surprise. For the longest time it was the case that marriage wasn’t for me. But then I met Claire.

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When and where was your wedding?

  • Craig:  28 May 2017, Little Neon Chapel, Downtown Las Vegas.
  • Claire:  It was day two of the Punk Rock Bowling festival. The chapel was over the road from the festival and one block up from our hotel, in a skeezy little shopping area.

You’d planned to go to Punk Rock Bowling before you got engaged, right? When did you decide that you wanted to get married out there?

  • Claire:  Yeah, I’ve been to Punk Rock Bowling the previous two years and we booked this in the October, intending to celebrate Craig’s birthday.  Following the surprise proposal we considered a few options but a Vegas wedding was always my preferred option, both because it was unbeatably cheap and so simple.  I wanted to be married to Craig but I’d never wanted a wedding, if you see the difference.  One day I was listening to The Lippies’ song Hot Air Balloon and they were singing ‘we’ll fly away’ and ‘fuck everything’ and it all became clear: Vegas was the only option.

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Who else did you have there?

  • Craig: We invited some folks Claire already knew who were out there for the festival, awesome Canadians Nat and Maria. We also invited a couple we met the day before while having a few beers and a mooch around Vegas; who we got on with famously: Candice and Devlin (also PRB attendees).
  • Claire:  Nat and Maria took me under their wing on my first trip out there as I was on my own and didn’t know a soul, so it meant a lot that they attended. Candice and Devlin are very much our kind of people; good hearted, fun and up for attending the wedding of people they only just met!  Over the course of the festival we became firm friends

Talk me through the whole day – how did it happen?

  • Craig:  I was watching infomercials and strange TV in our hotel room, trying to ignore the knots in my stomach and waiting for Claire to get ready.
  • Claire:  Curling my hair took ages, and I’d kept the dress a secret from Craig so he’d be surprised.  Craig had been a tiny bit pukey the night before so I expect he was hungover.
  • Craig: After being blown away by how gorgeous she looked, we had a big cuddle and a mad dash down to the chapel. Whilst nervously waiting, we posted a cryptic message on Facebook about how people might want to check out the chapel’s page in the next few minutes.  They were livestreaming our ceremony and most people didn’t know we were getting married.

If you want to see it for yourselves, you can still watch it here (they get started about 1 minute in): https://www.facebook.com/TheLittleNeonChapel/videos/1903353146610755/

  • Claire: After the ceremony we had photos taken, then went with Candice and Devlin to a bar at The Golden Nugget, where we had mimosas and shorts to toast our wedding.  I think we must have gone to the festival right after that.  After the festival we returned to a different bar at the Golden Nugget where we had many drinks, including a mix of Rum Chata and Fireball whiskey that make Craig excuse himself for a quick vomit. Then we drank tequila until I felt my brain start to burn.

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What did you both wear?

  • Craig: Claire had hinted that there may be green involved and I may want to dress myself accordingly, but assured me that whatever I wanted to wear was fine. So I opted to stick to the brief and went for a lairy green tropical shirt – you know, cause of the weather – and a pair of 501’s. Claire had also given me a splendid silver pin with a bee on it as a present that morning, which I donned with pride.
  • Claire:  I was in a green satin and black lace tea dress from Lindy Bop, Irregular Choice shoes from Ebay, a vintage bracelet and a very cheap and cheerful silver choker.  The whole lot came in at under £100, of which I am very proud!  The shoes hurt like fuck though, so I changed into my cheap generic trainers after a few photos.

Did you have any of your own music / entertainment or did the music festival cover that for you?

  • Craig: We were going to have Silly Voices by Wonk Unit for the ceremony (after weeks of consideration) but we didn’t plan it at all well, and forgot up until we were asked what we wanted.  We instead had a few stock Elvis songs provided by the chapel, which were fitting enough.
  • Claire:  Having the Elvis playlist actually was really good because, well, Vegas equals Elvis. Craig had selfishly vetoed my request for the wedding package where the ceremony is performed by a small-statured Mexican Elvis. The rest of the day’s music is somewhat of a blur, but I remember The Real McKenzies, Dickies, Bouncing Souls, Choking Victim and Fidlar.  The night was rounded off by Bad Religion. Seeing them for the first time on our wedding day in Vegas was ticking off a punk-rock bucket list item in the best possible way.

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What traditional elements of the wedding did you keep?

  • Craig: Vows, rings, ummmmmm, we didn’t do much that was traditional
  • Claire: Traditional Vegas Elvis songs.  Being madly in love is quite traditional I guess?

How was Punk Rock Bowling itself? Who did you see?

  • Craig:  Punk Rock Bowling was very fun, very hot and Bad Religion were a highlight.  The Club Shows (indoor shows at various bars after the festival each night) were a blessing and a real laugh. The show of the weekend was Tartar Control’s set. They were out of this world.
  • Claire:  It always interests me to see how super excited our transatlantic punk rock cousins get about bands like The Adicts and Cocksparrer.  Iggy Pop played, I guess that’s worth a mention.  But Tartar Control were so funny, fast and fucked-up, they were a highlight.  And I loved seeing Pears and Direct Hit! albeit in a frankly terrifying biker bar staffed by the most sexually aggressive female bartenders you’re likely to encounter.  Pears are so intense in a smaller venue, and Direct Hit! made me sing and dance their entire set.

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What was the reaction of the people at Punk Rock Bowling to the fact you’d just got married?

  • Craig:  We had lots of congratulations and friendly smiles but people were not phased because it’s Vegas. There were lots of other newly-weds knocking about even at the festival.
  • Claire:  Disappointingly few free drinks, damnit!

Is there anything you would change or do differently?

  • Craig: Absolutely nothing. It was a perfect day.
  • Claire:  Shoes.  I’d get shoes I could walk in.  And I hadn’t written my own vows because I assumed Craig hadn’t. It turned out he had, and I felt like a bit of a dick when it was my turn and I just kinda went, “Oh. Yes. Very well done.”

What advice do you have for anyone else looking to incorporate a punk/DIY aspect into their wedding?

  • Craig: Do it on your own terms. Think about yourselves first and foremost and make it as fun as possible.
  • Claire:  Elope.  Seriously.  Buy a package that covers the whole shebang.  Time it to coincide with a festival and you have a built in reception and a whole heap of drunk new best friends to share it with.

What was the best thing about the whole day (apart from your betrothal!)?

  • Craig: Spending a special and manic day with the woman I love.
  • Claire:  I was gonna say seeing Bad Religion but now I seem like a dick.

If you enjoyed this interview, why not check out Part One: Will & Felicia and Part Two: Kaz & Big Hands.

Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]

Part 2: Kaz & Big Hands celebrate with two massive gigs and plenty of help from their friends.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint Photography.

Welcome to Part Two of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender!

Earlier this year, Kaz and Big Hands hosted two of the biggest punk rock marriage celebrations I’ve ever heard of. Not only did they have a four-band line-up on their big day, they also managed to squeeze in an impressive ‘Hag Do’ gig at Gullivers in Manchester.

Chris Hinsley, better known as Big Hands, does data analysis by day but is the drummer in Revenge of the Psychotronic Man by night. Karen Hinsley (née Warburton, better known as Kaz) loves her job as an Animal Nursing Assistant, where (if her Facebook feed is anything to go by) she gets to care for incredibly cute puppies and kittens for a living. Together, Kaz and Big Hands are an integral part of the TNS Records family, spending their spare time packing merch and helping with new releases, as well as going to gigs and generally getting involved. They have also taken on the admirable task of running all the merch for Manchester Punk Festival.

I wanted to find out whether their experience of DIY gigs influenced their marriage choices, how two noisy punk gigs translate to a successful wedding, and whether Kaz managed to crowd-surf in a wedding dress.

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How did you both meet?

  • Big Hands: We kinda met years ago but didn’t really talk to each other – I was dressed as the Alan Partridge zombie along with Revenge. Bizarrely Andy from Revenge (and best man at the wedding) used to teach Kaz at college.
  • Kaz: I’ve known some of the guys from Faintest Idea for over 10 years now and I used to go down to Norfolk quite a lot for weekend trips. One of those times was for a Halloween gig that Revenge were playing. I was actually just getting into the punk scene at the time so I hadn’t actually heard Revenge before… and I hadn’t watched Partridge so I totally didn’t get their costume choice! I didn’t really say much to Chris at all that weekend but I remember we were at the same house party that night for a few hours.
  • Big Hands: We first properly spoke to each other at Strummer Camp 2011 as we both knew Faintest Idea, so we blame Dani for that one.
  • Kaz: We went out for a drink a week or so after that and I haven’t been able to shake him since!
  • Big Hands: It was six years the day before the wedding. I proposed on our anniversary, and we decided to get married the same weekend two years later, so with my shocking memory I only have to remember one date!

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Before we get onto the wedding in detail, tell me all about the hen / stag do.

  • Big Hands: We both have the same friends (male and female), so we decided to have a joint one: hence our ‘hag do’. It meant that A) we could all party together and B) it was really hard to choose bands to play the wedding, so it gave us a chance to put some others on. We ended up with Pizzatramp, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Casual Nausea, Rising Strike and The Lab Rats. We also managed to convince Sense of Urgency to reform for it, which was amazing. We roped in Col and Laura of MBBP fame to run it for us, so we have them to thank for that one.
  • Kaz: The hag do was also on the day of my 30th so it was a joint celebration. Col and Laura did a great job and it was such a cracking gig!
  • Big Hands: Also, to finish it off, we managed one last night in Retro Bar before that got closed down.
  • Kaz: Yeah, originally we we only going to do the hag do and not your typical hen and stag do’s, but my wonderful maid of honour, Kim, had other ideas. She planned a surprise get away to Ibiza for me and some of my close girl mates. Big Hands also had a weekend in Berlin. She called it a ‘not hen do’ and we didn’t have any of the typical hen party tat. We just went away for a long weekend and had a good time together. Also, my 63 year old mum came and got her first tattoo, in Ibiza… on her bum!

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When and where did you get married?

  • Big Hands: June 10th this year at a place called Victoria Warehouse in Salford, right next to Old Trafford. We spent ages trying to find somewhere cheap but not rubbish that would let us take our own catering in, as we wanted it to be completely vegan.
  • Kaz: Victoria Warehouse was the perfect venue really. We were one of the first couples to book a wedding there, as they had not long had their licence. When we first viewed it they were still refurbishing, so we had to use our imagination as to what the finished product would be.
  • Big Hands: Although it was still being done up, it looked like exactly what we were after: basically somewhere that looked better than a shitty venue but still had that rough look.
  • Kaz: Looking around the rest of the warehouse, we got a good idea of what they would be going for. The rest of the building is just incredible. It’s totally full of random, quirky things. I knew as soon as we walked in that was going to be the place!

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What made your wedding less traditional and more special?

  • Big Hands: I think we kept describing ours as a ‘posh gig’. We didn’t really aim for a non-traditional wedding, we just picked out the best bits of weddings and gigs and mixed them together.
  • Kaz: We just did exactly what we wanted to do instead of worrying about what we ‘should’ do or what others would expect from a wedding. We talked about other weddings we had been to and discussed what we did/didn’t enjoy. I was keen to reduce the waiting around time as much as possible. I feel some weddings are very stop start; you’re waiting for food, or for the bar to open, or for the music to start… We just wanted the whole day to flow nicely from start to finish without any lulls. We decided to just do it for us and do what we enjoy.
  • Big Hands: We basically asked for the shortest possible ceremony and made sure that the bar was open all the time. Throw into that four amazing bands and there’s not really a lot more you could want.

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Do you think your experience of organising/helping with gigs helped when it came to organising the wedding?

  • Kaz: The evening do was basically a gig, so previous experience and contacts came in handy with that. We are really lucky to have so many talented friends and family members, and so many of them who were so eager to step up and offer assistance.
  • Big Hands: Definitely, it was pretty much a complete DIY wedding. £1000 for a photographer? Nah, it’s alright – there’s about five coming anyway. Big thanks to Bev, who did amazing considering I only paid him with a Motorhead record. £500 for a cake? It’s alright, Kim can do a better one for a bottle of rum. I don’t want to know how much they normally charge for a PA and a standard sound engineer; we just paid Marios and got Francis from Stand out Riot, who’s amazing. There was no need for an expensive shit DJ when you’ve got Spotify and a 90’s dance playlist.
  • Kaz: I decided to make the invites and all the decorations with some help from my friends; we just had crafting days where we made things and drank wine. I started planning it pretty much a month after we got engaged and just did a little at a time over the 2 years.

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What musical entertainment did you have at the wedding?

  • Big Hands: We had quite a mix of music, and very little punk apart from the bands. We were lucky enough to book the mighty Wonk Unit before they became Rebellion main stagers! We also got Black Volvo for what I think ended up being their last UK gig before they split up. I hope that wasn’t our fault. We basically told Faintest Idea they had to play; they owed us that for always turning up at our house at all hours, expecting breakfast beds for the night. Stoj Snak even came over from Denmark for us.
  • Kaz: I think we were actually spot on with the music choices on the day. The bands even went down really well with family! I think my mum now secretly likes some punk. Our two nieces Emma (8) and Lily (5) got to experience the bands for the first time too and were absolutely loving it. They even got to take part in Stoj Snak’s set.
  • Big Hands: We decided not to bother with a DJ because of cost and not having full control over the music that was going to be played. Instead I did 12 months’ research with Andy and Matt, remembering and playing all the best 90’s indie and dance music in the van on the way to Revenge gigs. At the risk of sounding big headed, it was a fucking banging playlist.

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What songs did you have for your first dance / walking down the aisle?

  • Big Hands: We went for the traditional Jurassic Park theme tune for Kaz to walk down the aisle.
  • Kaz: I actually suggested the Jurassic Park theme for my entrance song as a joke originally, as there’s a bit of a thing with JP in our friendship group and I thought it would be hilarious. The more I listened to it though, the more I realised it’s actually a really nice piece of music.
  • Big Hands: We got Wonk Unit to play Nagging Wife for our first dance.
  • Kaz: I think we knew from the offset that Nagging Wife was going to be our first dance. We had asked Wonk Unit to play quite early on, and I can’t think of anything more awkward than just the two of us dancing together with everyone watching. We just asked Alex to start the set with Nagging Wife and had everyone dancing with us. Obviously there was a first dance crowd surf!

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What other entertainment did you have? Please tell me there’s a wedding-dress/human pyramid photo out there somewhere.

  • Big Hands: That was it for entertainment. We had to stop ourselves at booking four bands and that didn’t leave us with much spare time. I can’t remember if we managed a human pyramid? I know we’d been saying for ages that we needed to. Both our Mums went crowd-surfing.
  • Kaz: I’m pretty sure there was a pyramid or two. We definitely managed a decent rower, and I was getting whisked off my feet into the air every five minutes to crowd surf. As far as the wedding dress: I had an evening alternative that was better suited for the antics, which was lucky as I threw red wine down my actual dress during Stoj Snak.

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What traditional elements did you keep?

  • Big Hands: We gave each other rings and Kaz wore an amazing white dress… I think that was about it.
  • Kaz: Well, the dress was actually blush, but it was really subtle. I decided to go for a typical wedding dress, but I wanted one that had a bit of character still. When I went to the dress shop I didn’t actually pick a single dress myself; I let each person who came with me pick one for me to try. Fizzy actually chose the winning dress.

Did I see that you both got tattooed afterwards?

  • Big Hands: Yes. We didn’t do normal speeches, Andy did one and our friend Em from Bomb Ibiza wanted to do one. She invited everyone to draw a tattoo design to put into a black voting box that she pulled out, which we then got to choose from.
  • Kaz: This was actually such a good idea. I think it was actually Em’s sister, Tilly, that came up with it. When I agreed to it I actually thought we had to pick one at random and have that tattooed, so I was pretty happy when I got to pick!
  • Big Hands: I’m glad we got to choose because if not, I wouldn’t of ended up with Lord Blobby Bucket Head. I’d probably have ended up with a tattoo of Miff from Chewed Up, as there must have been twenty pieces of paper with his name on in there.
  • Kaz: Pulling out the slips I was like ‘Miff’… ‘Miff’.. .’Miff’… There were actually some amazing suggestions! I couldn’t resist the one I got though, because let’s be honest: cats are better than Big Hands.Is there anything you would do differently?             
  • Kaz: I would hand my glass of red wine to Kim when she tried to take it off me, seconds before I spilt it on myself!
  • Big Hands: I honestly don’t think so. We both had so much fun. Actually, I got put on the spot just before the vows when the registrar asked me what names we wanted to be called during the ceremony, i.e., Chris & Kaz or Christopher & Karen. I said Chris & Kaz and only thought after that I should have gone with Big Hands & Kaz.

Kaz & Big Hands Tattoo

What advice do you have for anyone else looking to incorporate a punk/DIY aspect into their wedding?

  • Big Hands: Forget about overthinking it. Think about what you don’t like about traditional weddings and just change it. That and you can pretty much do everything for cheap or free if you have awesome friends.
  • Kaz: Yeah, exactly, just do it for yourselves. It’s ok to be a little selfish in that respect – don’t worry about pleasing everyone else, just do what you want to do.What was the best thing about the whole day (apart from your betrothal!)?
  • Big Hands: It’s harder for Kaz to get rid of me now.
  • Kaz: I actually loved seeing how much everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves too. It was amazing to see my mum, mum-in-law and my glamorous cousin, Tracie, crowd-surfing. I’ve got to say: I’ve never seen someone crowd-surf as flawlessly as Tray did!

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If you enjoyed this interview, why not check out Part One: Will & Felicia and Part Three: Claire & Craig.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint Photography.

 

Punk Rock Weddings: Will & Felicia [Part 1 of 3]

Part 1 of our Wedding Special: Felicia tells us what it’s like to perform at your own wedding and how a DIY approach can make a difference.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Lisa Robjant.

Marriage is something that has never, ever appealed to me. In my view, weddings are an expensive social construct and the idea of religious nuptials is antiquated and reductive. You have to wear uncomfortable clothes, wait to pose for awkward photos and narrowly avoid drunkenly embarrassing yourself in front of someone’s new in-laws. The only upside is the occasional utterance of the magic words: open bar.

Or so I thought. In the last year I’ve heard of some brilliant wedding celebrations that have made me jealous, to say the least. Seeing some of my punk friends tie the knot is enough to make me re-evaluate the whole institution of marriage. Maybe it isn’t a complete farce after all?

I suppose organising a wedding is a lot like booking a gig: you’ve still got bands, beers and a heap of drunk mates to consider. Far from the notoriously shite cover bands and mobile discos that infest traditional weddings, we spoke to three very different couples who introduced their love of punk into their special days in an inspiring way.

Over these three articles, you’ll hear what it’s like to play a gig at your own reception, to have your first dance to Wonk Unit live, and to say “I do” just before watching Bad Religion headline.

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Photo by Smiles Photography.

First up are Will Spicer and Felicia Dahmen. Spicer’s known for having previously played in Luvdump, although he’s recently joined a new band, Cheap Heat. Felicia plays violin with Danny & The Moonlighters and the pair are on their way to forming their own hardcore band with some mates in Bury St Edmunds. Spicer’s a born and bred East Anglian, but Felicia’s all the way from Melbourne, Australia.

What made their wedding different was their DIY approach, and the fact that Felicia’s own band played at the reception. Spicer even had to leave his own wedding for half an hour to go and seek out an amplifier. I spoke to Felicia to find out a bit more. Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings: Will & Felicia [Part 1 of 3]”

An Interview with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro [Part 2 of 2]

Aerial Salad’s frontman tells how the band started and how they got banned from Fest, in the second half of a two-part special feature.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint.

Check out Part One here.

Aerial Salad have been playing together since high school, although they’ve only really been a proper band for two years. They’ve done a lot in that time: releasing their first album, getting added to the Plasterer Records roster and playing increasingly large shows, including Florida’s infamous annual punk rock event: Fest.

Roach, released last week, is a raw, angsty record, that takes cues from bands like Jawbreaker, Greenday and Gnarwolves. Misery, mundanity and self-loathing are the most prescient themes on the album, although musically it’s very upbeat. Chatting to singer/guitarist, Jamie Munro, it’s clear that his life if underlined by a negative outlook that many of us can relate to, with his passion for music driving him forward through is shitty day job and crippling self-doubt.

Jamie and I covered a lot of ground in Part One, but early in the conversation he told me a story that deserved an article in its own right.  We got chatting about the perils of drinking wine that you’ve found open in a roadside in London. We determined pretty quickly that although Jamie’s got some punk sensibilities, he draws the line at street wine (quite rightly so).

I asked him what the most punk thing he’s ever done is, and he suddenly comes out with this corker:

“The most punk thing we’ve ever done was to play Fest, and then get banned from ever playing again.”

It turns out that this unexpected gem is also the origin story of Aerial Salad.

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You got banned from Fest? Tell me about that!

Fest is the main reason Aerial Salad all happened. This was only two years ago; but I was a miserable piece of shit, I was well depressed.

When you’re properly depressed it makes you into a cunt: once you have no regard for your own well-being, it makes it really difficult to have regard for other people’s well-being. If your own emotions are so bleak, you don’t care about upsetting other people, so you can become a narcissistic arsehole. Not everyone does! Positive people who deal with depression are incredible, because it’s a very selfish illness, and it can turn you into a piece of shit. It took me a really long time to realise that’s what I was doing.

To cheers us up, Jack [Appleby, drummer of Aerial Salad] took us to Fest. I ended up meeting Tony [who runs Fest] out there, which was incredible. I told him, “This festival basically stopped me from killing myself,” which is true. That’s what 97 is about. I asked him how you get onto playing it and he just said he likes hearing new bands.

When I got back, I was thought about how I wasn’t really enjoying being at uni. I’m a bit of a fuck up, I’m acting like shit, I’m treating people like shit. My life’s going fucking nowhere… and that’s normally how people start punk bands!

We got the band back together, and we decided we were going to play Fest before we’d even started recording. Fest ended up being our ninth gig. It was the best week of my life… up until we played.

Here’s the thing though, right? We’re in America. I’ve got a right Liam Gallagher on me: I’m playing Fest, I’m basically famous. I was tweeting Fat Wreck Chords every day being like, “C’mon guys, when are you going to sign us?” I was a proper cunt, thinking we were the best band ever. Not only had we just about gotten okay in the last couple of months, this was only our ninth gig.

I was also bang on it – getting fucked up every night like it was nobody’s business. Jack and Mike were taking it a bit easier, but I was completely fucked every night of the festival.

On the day we were playing, it got to about half nine… and then it hit us that we were about to play Fest.

We hadn’t practiced in a week or two. And then the stars all aligned… and Jack and Mike got really, really fucked up. I got even more fucked up!

We went on and we were out of time, out of tune. We played the worst set ever. We played so badly that halfway through Conservative Thinking Mike wandered over to me and said, “I think we’re out of time.” If one of you halfway through a song has the time to stop and say ‘we’re out of time’ then you’re definitely fucked. It was a joke. It was like watching my dreams shatter before my eyes.

It really fucked with me because I thought it was my big chance at making no money and playing in a punk band. It turns out that actually as soon as you start a punk band you have made it, as the whole goal is to make no money and sometimes be a little bit rubbish.

I know I fucked that up. I feel that part of becoming a better person is admitting your faults in life and confronting them. If you hide away from the reason why you’re a piece of shit, you just justify it to yourself, that what you’re doing is okay.

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Jamie talks a big game, full of rock-star anecdotes and Gallagher swagger, but underneath he gives the impression of a man who really hates himself. It’s an endearing combination of ego and self-loathing, something which he harnesses in his lyrics and his raw vocal delivery.

Hearing it all laid out on a complete record for the first time on their album Roach, it’s overwhelmingly relatable. He’s a shitty, flawed human being, plagued with anxiety and boredom just like the rest of us. That’s precisely why you should go and listen to the album.

What’s the future for Aerial Salad? Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Fuck me. That’s the problem with depression, you can barely see about four weeks ahead sometimes. This is what I love about the DIY scene. We are all very lonely, very sad little people and we bond over that, and a love of loud, shouty music.

What I want is for us to continue to do what we’re doing. I’d like to tour more and do longer stints. I’ve pretty much written another album. I don’t really see us anywhere. There is no goal in this band. The only goal is to make my life sort of worth living and that’s what it does. So as long as it’s worth the constant stress and heartache… We’ll be exactly where we are, with a few more people listening to us.

Check out Part One of our interview here.

While you’re here, check out our review of their new album Roach. Follow Aerial Salad on Facebook and buy a copy of Roach over at their Bandcamp page, you won’t regret it.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint.

An Interview with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro [Part 1 of 2]

Aerial Salad’s frontman talks to us about self-hatred, songwriting and touring successes and setbacks, in the first half of a two-part special feature.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint.

I manage to catch up with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro on a wet Tuesday evening in October, on the eve of the release of their first album, Roach. Jamie has spent the last hour or so stuck on one of Manchester’s buses, and curses the heavens for deciding to open just as he’s lit a cigarette. I wouldn’t call Jamie a tortured genius, but he’s got an uncanny knack for channelling life’s little day-to-day tragedies into something creative.

He has plenty to be excited about, though; 2017 has been a big year for Aerial Salad. The young trio from Manchester have been playing increasingly bigger shows with the likes of The Bouncing Souls and PEARS, plus big festivals like Rebellion. Roach has just been launched on Alex Brindle-Johnson’s label Plasterer Records, and they’re embarking on a full-on three week tour with Wonk Unit this week. Jamie sings and plays guitar, with Mike Wimbleton on bass and Jack Appleby on drums completing the trio.

I could chat to Jamie for hours; he’s funny, self-deprecating and bubbling with youthful exuberance. Mid-interview, he asks me, “Can you say I was ‘the voice of a generation yet to be heard’? Because then it can say that on my gravestone. It’s very arrogant.” We had so much to discuss that I’ve split this interview into two shorter parts.

Read on to learn about Aerial Salad’s touring successes and failures, plus Jamie’s take on songwriting and musical influences. In tomorrow’s instalment, we find out the origin story of Aerial Salad, how they got banned from playing Fest and why Jamie hates himself with a burning passion.

For a fairly new band, you’ve managed to get onto some big gigs like Fest and Rebellion. How have you managed that?

This band is based on two things: naiveté and luck. That’s what’s beautiful about the DIY scene: you’re only ever four gigs away from playing with one of your favourite bands. The only difference with us is that we’ve had loads of time to gig, because we allowed ourselves to get shit jobs so we can afford to play in a band all the time.

Aerial Salad Hold My Pint 2.jpgWhat are the biggest gigs you’ve played recently?

The biggest one we’ve done was Rebellion, but I think Wonk Fest was the best show we’ve played. The first gig we did with Beach Slang at Brudenell Social Club was fucking ridiculous. That was the first good set we ever played. That was just after Alex [Brindle Johnson, of Wonk Unit] had started managing us. He had seen how shit we were, and he told us we needed to be better. He taught us how to be good.

Didn’t you have a support slot with The Bouncing Souls that went a bit awry?

Yeah, there was a miscommunication between the promoter and the tour manager. We turned up after a five and a half hour drive to Norwich all excited for our first proper tour, ready to get stuck in and play with The Bouncing Souls. Their tour manager was like, “Who are you? There’s only three bands playing tonight and you’re not one of them.”

God bless him, Dan, who was putting on the gig, was like, “Please can you just let these children play this show?” We went on 10 minutes before doors opened and played a 20 minute set. Our friend walked in halfway through Dunhills and just thought we were sound-checking. Before you knew it, Great Cynics were on.

So, we did play with The Bouncing Souls and no one can take that away from us, even though we did play before doors opened and no one saw us. It’s alright. Continue reading “An Interview with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro [Part 1 of 2]”