Vanilla Pod: Gone But Not Forgotten [Interview]

After over 20 years together, Kings Lynn’s favourite punks Vanilla Pod called it a day in 2018. We’ve chronicled the history of this classic band with the help of guitarist Steve Pod.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

After twenty three (twenty three!) years as a band, notorious Kings Lynn punks Vanilla Pod decided to call it a day in late 2018. They chose to go out with a bang, completing a long run of live dates around the UK, releasing a final farewell EP Goodbye My Love and hosting one final Podstock event as a hometown send off.

It was quite the fanfare for a band who, while remaining relatively humble, have had a major influence on many people within the UK punk scene (and further afield). One of my earliest punk rock memories was catching Vanilla Pod playing a glorious grotty venue in my seaside hometown at approximately the age of 14, by which time they’d already been going for nearly a decade. I remember finding them on a Rock Sound compilation and being impressed that they were playing down the road for only £3 on-the-door.

Since then there have been many memorable (and some perhaps less memorable!) experiences with Vanilla Pod involved – chaotic club nights, quieter acoustic sets, celebratory, nostalgic weekends at Podstock and that-one-time-at-WonkFest that no one forgets.

Before the split, I spoke to guitarist Steve Pitcher (who, as far as I’m concerned, shall always be known as Steve Pod) to document some of the bands’ history. Continue reading “Vanilla Pod: Gone But Not Forgotten [Interview]”

Playlist: The Best Live Punk Rock Bands of 2019 (so far…)

Listen to our latest Spotify playlist, highlighting the best live punk rock bands of 2019 so far.

Curated by Sarah Williams.

We’ve made a Spotify playlist of all the best punk rock bands we’ve seen live this year, just for you. Want to discover your new favourite band, or relive the best music festivals of 2019? Look no further.

Live music is the best barometer for new bands. No matter your budget, it’s impossible to capture the energy of a good gig on vinyl. Watching a band live is the fastest way to fall in love with them.

Writing in August, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a plenty of punk gigs and festivals already this year. Feisty bands like Not On TourThe Penske File and Nosebleed have consistently got me dancing. I’ve been impressed by old favourites like The Bronx and Consumed, who haven’t lost their edge. And I’ve caught new acts like Cryptic Street and Daves and had my mind blown.

Here is a Spotify playlist of the best punk rock bands of 2019 so far. Who would be on your list?

Continue reading “Playlist: The Best Live Punk Rock Bands of 2019 (so far…)”

Gig Review: Behind-The-Scenes at Manchester Punk Festival 2019

A review of MPF from Sarah, who volunteers at the event. Friends, frantic dashes between venues and some top-class hardcore, including Not On Tour, Adrenalized, Svalbard, Consumed, Fair Do’s and Snuff.

Although there will be reviews aplenty, at Shout Louder we want to offer two unique perspectives on the fifth year of Manchester Punk Festival. Mark Bartlett’s given us is highlights as an MPF virgin, where as Sarah Williams is an MPF veteran who volunteers at the festival. In this edition, Sarah gives us a unique perspective from behind the scenes.

Excitement for Manchester Punk Festival begins long before the doors open to the public. Unfortunately, excitement can easily be mistaken for stress.

Weeks before the main event, I’m inundated with messages asking about guest list, accommodation, press accreditation and band recommendations. I’m only a volunteer, I’m not even one of the organisers – I can’t begin to imagine the sheer insanity of their inboxes. How they manage to keep it together in the days leading up to the festival, I will never know.

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Thursday

The hard graft starts in earnest on Thursday – the eve of the festival. I drive to Moston to join a five car convoy; our best method of transporting all the festival merchandise in the absence of ROPTM’s van. I’m blasting out Ocean Wisdom round the M60 like some boy racer on the way, which is harshly interrupted by a phonecall about a bounced band payment and a confusing artist hotel booking. We get it sorted in seconds, like pros.

Delivering the merchandise is the first time I’ve seen MPF’s brand new venue: The Union. It’s a huge, modern student building fittingly decorated in Manchester’s signature yellow-and-black. I’m shocked to see the size of the main hall. As we climb ladders to hang banners, it starts to look like a ‘real’ festival venue. It’s fucking huge. Continue reading “Gig Review: Behind-The-Scenes at Manchester Punk Festival 2019”

Gig Review: Consumed @ Aatma, Manchester [13/07/2018]

Consumed rip through their Northern album launch show, with support from Don Blake, Triple Sundae and Hoof.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Cold Front Photography.

We’ve been waiting for 16 years, but it’s finally here. Nineties UK skate-punk legends Consumed have chosen today to drop their EP Decade of No into our laps, after a long hiatus. Every chord, every note and every lyric is just as vibrant, exciting and relevant as their earlier releases and I’m supremely excited to celebrate the launch with them tonight.

The troopers at Anarchistic Undertones have organised tonight’s album release party at Aatma in Manchester, with a varied line up of supports in the form of Don Blake, Triple Sundae and Hoof. What better way to finish of your working week?

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I’m gonna get straight out there are say it: I bloody love Hoof. They don’t seem to have the big furore around them that you occasionally get with DIY bands, but there’s an understated charm to them and what they play is just very, very good. They fall into the camp of 90’s EpiFat-era skate-punk (and I’d hazard a guess Consumed are a big influence on them), producing a sound that’s comfortingly familiar and exceptionally well executed.

In the interest of building anticipation, they break a string approximately five notes into the set, leading to a lengthy re-stringing break before the show’s even started. Fortunately these guys are the masters of off-hand stage banter, and at least it didn’t halt the set halfway through.

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Back up and running again they rip through Epitaph and Petty Thieves, the title track from their relatively recent EP. It’s fast, hard punk rock with a strong grasp of melody and a tight technical edge, particularly on the snappy drum fills and odd twiddly riffs. They’re firmly in the class of bands incapable of playing less than breakneck speed, ideal for kicking off a show. Continue reading “Gig Review: Consumed @ Aatma, Manchester [13/07/2018]”

Album Review: Consumed – Decade of No

The new Consumed EP is every bit as vital and vibrant as their late 90’s releases.

Article by Ollie Stygall.

What compels a band to reunite? Well, for some, like Guns And Roses, the lure of the mighty dollar and recent diminishing return in terms of popularity and quality are certainly a factor… But what of those bands who achieved small to medium success then fell apart amidst relationship issues/money issues/lack of greater success, etc.? Surely there can only be one reason: because they want to. Time is a great healer in terms of relationships, people have moved on to have careers outside of music and aren’t struggling so much financially, and gradually that desire to rock out again hits so bands reform… not because they need to, but because they want to. That’s the best reason to be in a band.

But can it ever be as good as it was before? Has age tempered the youthful rage? Well, from personal experience, having a career, having a family, being a homeowner and becoming more aware of the world actually increases the rage, so I would argue that bands that are reaching or have reached middle age are probably more effective at playing punk rock than they were 20 years ago.

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Consumed existed from 1994 to 2003 and achieved a level of success that a lot of bands would dream of, signing to Fat Wreck Chords, BYO and Golf in their career, all legendary punk rock labels, and touring the world. Now they’re back… because they want to be. Continue reading “Album Review: Consumed – Decade of No”

Podcast #6: The Bennies, Consumed, SBÄM Fest & El Topo

Episode 4 is packed full of punk rock treats for you! We have an interview with Australian party machines The Bennies, a massive Umlaut Records giveaway to celebrate the new Consumed release and tales of SBÄM Fest and El Topo Goes Loco. We also play new tunes from The Human Project, Youth Avoiders, Tragical History Tour and Consumed!

Our highlight was catching up with Anty and Nick from The Bennies in Beligum, and asking them about their worst experience ever! Hold on till the end of the episode for that.

First up, Mark and Sarah discuss their recent gigs, including an account Austrian punk festival SBÄM Fest, including talk of Propagandhi, Satanic Surfers, No Trigger, Astpai, Wonk Unit, Donots and The Murderburgers. Sarah gets emotional, has Iron Chic mansplained to her, gains a boob bruise and discovers the perils of getting drunk with Darko two weeks in a row.

We also cover Belgian sunny ska/skate romp El Topo Goes Loco, including The Bennies, Beat The Red Light, The Affect Heuristic, Thanx 4 All The Shoes, The Burnt Tapes, Slack Birds, Imperial Leisure and Not Available. Mark also chats about TIE Fighter Pilot, Project Revise and Butt Plug Babies, plus we share a love of a Bangers.

Come join us in Sarah’s living room, talking faster than light to get through all this awesome content.

Continue reading “Podcast #6: The Bennies, Consumed, SBÄM Fest & El Topo”

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 Steve from Vanilla Pod. 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]”