Interview with Matilda’s Scoundrels: “A shit Mumford and Sons, but a good Gogol Bordello.”

We spoke to Dan and Jens about writing their new album, organising Wotsit Called Fest and getting thrown off a pier.

Interview by Sarah Williams. Photos and video by Mark Richards.

Matilda’s Scoundrels must be one of the hardest-working bands in the UK DIY scene.

They’ve been touring up and down the country, popping up on all-dayers, in pubs and at a whole range of festivals this summer, building up a reputation as a cannot-miss live act. Although they’ve been together for three and a half years, it wasn’t until September 2017 that they released their first full-length album As The Tide Turns (review here). It’s 42 minutes of rollicking, overdriven aggro-folk, with all the calms and crests of a rough sea and plenty of rousing shout-alongs.

I sat with down guitarist Dan Flanagan and accordionist Jens-Peter Jensen at The Palace in Hastings, just before doors open for the main day of Wotsit Called Fest. The festival is a two-day blend of different genres, with DIY at its heart. It’s organised by Dan and Jens, plus Kathy Butler and The Barracks’ Mark Tanner.  Matilda’s Scoundrels also treated the Friday night as their album release party, playing a storming set to a room full of enthralled fans.

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Given that we were all still up celebrating at 4am, we had a surprisingly sprightly chat, however when I asked them about As The Tide Turns Dan and Jens both paused to give consideration to each answer, rather than diving straight in with a response. I started to get an insight into the care and consideration that’s gone into writing and producing this brilliant new record…

How did Matilda’s Scoundrels first get started?

  • Jens: We all did exactly the same thing that most people did; we met up at gigs, we drank and had fun together. One day we decided it would be a great idea to start a band. It tumbled from there.

You’ve been together a long time, so it feels like there’s been a lot leading up to the first album. How long have you been working on it?

  • Dan: It’s taken us forever!
  • Jens: We’d released a couple of EPs and some singles. We’ve released music every year.
  • Dan: Getting on for 2 years ago, we wrote the first songs.
  • Jens: It didn’t take long to record…
  • Dan: It did take long to record.
  • Jens: Okay, yeah, that’s a lie.
  • Dan: About 8 months. We wanted to take our time with it; an album is quite a big thing so we wanted to make sure we did it right. There’s a lot of us, that’s the thing.
  • Jens: There are six of us. It’s going to be a lot easier to do it if you’re a two piece punk band, because you have three major instruments and that’s it. To be honest, it wasn’t that hard to write, because we are a very writing-focussed band. There are always songs that we’re playing, trying to push up and trying to write.
  • Dan: We’ve already a got a couple towards the next album.
  • Jens: There are several tracks towards the next album! Whether they make it or not is another story!

Continue reading “Interview with Matilda’s Scoundrels: “A shit Mumford and Sons, but a good Gogol Bordello.””

The Crash Mats: Pies, Panpipes and the Dizzy Heights of Rockstardom [Interview]

“We’re like a Tunnock’s tea-cake. We’re dead soft and squidgy on the top and round the middle, but we’re hardcore underneath.”

The Crash Mats are hands-down one of the most entertaining live acts I have ever seen. They’re a damn good band that blend elements of punk, ska and hardcore, but their real talent lies in 24-carat comedy.

They’ve recently put out their second album 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics on Manchester DIY label Horn & Hoof. It’s a rollicking ride through 21 classic tunes, including: Don’t Tell Mum That The Babysitter’s Dead, I Don’t Want To Go To Grandma’s House Tonight and My Girlfriend Only Has 24 Hours To Live. It’s a genuine feel-good album, reflecting the gargantuan level of fun you are guaranteed at their live shows.

Interrogating three such distinguished gentlemen as these is a rare opportunity, so I jumped at the chance to interview Oldham’s finest shortly after their set at Wotsit Called Fest.

It turns out that Danny Barrett a.k.a. Evil Bazz (vocals + bass), Dan Royales a.k.a. Seniòr Royales (guitar) and Chris ‘da beat’ Webb (drums) are even more hilarious in person than they are on stage. Huddled in a corner of the dingy backroom of The Palace in Hastings, surrounded by punks loading in instruments and beer floating in buckets of half-melted ice, we had a deeply poignant and meaningful discussion.

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You’ve just come off stage at Wotsit Called Fest. You’re rock stars. How do you feel?

  • Royales: Well, I always said to my Mum – “Just you watch.” After seeing Queen I said, “Mum, I’m gonna be a rock star.” It don’t surprise me at all.
  • Bazz: We’ve reached the dizzy heights of Freddy Mercury here, playing Wotsit Called Festival. Next we’re getting a plane to LA and playing twice in one day.
  • Shout Louder: You mean you don’t have a helicopter?
  • Royales: Not yet. The Crash Copter is out of action at the moment, it’s coming next week.

You’ve recently released a new album: 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. What inspired your song writing?

  • Bazz: Cannabis, professional wrestling and my Grandma.
  • Royales: We watched a documentary about 14th century French art and that’s where we got our inspiration.
  • Bazz: It is pretty deep, if you scratch beneath the surface. Below the thin veneer of intelligence.

Have you considered learning the pan pipes?

  • Chris: We were going to do it for the album, but we’re just too modest. If Bazz started playing the pan pipes at a gig he’d just steal the show. He’s prevented himself from playing the pan pipes for the good of The Crash Mats, I think.

Continue reading “The Crash Mats: Pies, Panpipes and the Dizzy Heights of Rockstardom [Interview]”

Nosebleed: Boomtown, MPF and Getting High on Frisbee [Interview]

“We change our suits every time we do a record. The embarrassment of our smell is the incentive to write more material.”

For three years, Nosebleed have been gallivanting around the country, bewildering audiences with their energetic live performances. They play lo-fi punk ‘n’ roll with panache, with a reputation for being band-of-the-night even when they’re not top of the bill.

Their live shows defy comparison: it’s something you need to experience for yourself. Ben and Eliott are seemingly incapable of remaining on-stage and usually cause a ruckus by hauling their mic-stands and guitars into the crowd, continuing the show in the middle of the dancefloor. It goes far beyond the average pit-and-pyramid format seen at most punk gigs (although you get that too). Stylishly decked out in blue velour suits, western ties and polished brogues, visually they have more in common with a ‘50s variety show than the hardcore punk bills they tend to play.

Since 2014 they’ve also released two EPs and a Greatest Hits album Hit After Hit After Hit (which contains every song from the EPs). To say that every song they’ve recorded is a greatest hit isn’t an overstatement: they’re all infectious garage-punk bangers that’ll stick in your head for weeks on end.

I was lucky enough to have a natter with the northern trio ahead of their recent gig at The Smokehouse in Ipswich: Eliott Verity (guitar + vocals), Ben Hannah (bass + vocals) and Dicky Riddims (drums + massive grins).

They’re just as entertaining to talk to as they are on stage. Enjoy.

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Ben and Eliott out in the crowd at The Smokehouse.

Welcome to Ipswich! We’re seriously excited for your set. Have you always done the jumping-out-in-the-crowd thing?

  • Eliott: Yeah, from the very beginning we’ve done that.
  • Ben: I think it started in London. It was the bar!
  • Eliott: I was really thirsty [during our set in London] so I went to the bar, and I just carried on playing. And then it became a thing. I mean it kinda came from my brother, who was in a band called The Franceens. They did it a lot, and I thought, yeah, that’s cool. I’m doing that.
  • Ben: You stole it.
  • Eliott: We stole it. It made them go away, and now it’s just us.

Dicky, when Ben and Eliott are out cavorting in the crowd, you’re left all on your own on stage. Do you ever feel a bit left out?

  • Dicky: Well, I always say that I come out to play music with my mates and I always end up sat on my own. No one recognises me.
  • Eliott: No one knows who Dicky is. People walk past him to come to me, to say, “Is there someone here selling your merch?” Some guys asked Dicky, “Do you know anyone in Nosebleed who could sell me a t-shirt?”
  • Ben: We were in Oldham last week. This guy comes up to me to say ‘good set’. He shook my hand and then just looked at Dicky and nodded. Dicky [looked a bit deflated] and the guy was like, “What was up with him?”
  • Dicky: It’s awful. [Cracks up laughing]

2sickmonkeys-nosebleeds-bobbyfunk-12Do you ever wish you could sit down and do a nice acoustic set?

  • Eliott: Not even an acoustic set; I wish I could quit music.
  • [Laughter]
  • Ben: It was originally talked about for Boomtown. Alec and Laura Freestone [who run Last Gang In Town / Devil Kicks Dancehall] asked if we would be interested in playing acoustic, as they only normally put acoustic on The Last Stand… I can’t imagine how that would sound. I’m actually terrible at bass, I just hide it with distortion! Eliott solos all the time but it’d be a bit plinky-plonky on an acoustic guitar.
  • Eliott: We could do one of the swing sets we’ve done: swing covers and stuff like that.
  • Ben: We’ve recorded some lounge music.
  • Eliott: But that’s just for us. It was going to be a ghost track on a CD but it never happened.

Continue reading “Nosebleed: Boomtown, MPF and Getting High on Frisbee [Interview]”

An Interview with Kamikaze Girls

We talk to fuzzy garage duo Kamikaze Girls about their impressive debut album, ‘Seafoam’, writing about sensitive subjects, frustrations and more.

In early June Kamikaze Girls released their first full-length studio album, Seafoam. The duo from Leeds have previously put out two EPs, a three-track cassette and a David Bowie tribute, so it feels like they’ve taken the long road to this release. I’ve had the chance to enjoy their powerfully atmospheric live shows a number of times over the past 3 years, including recently on tour with Gnarwolves, and I’ve been itching to hear the new album.

Seafoam is the perfect follow up to their last EP, SAD. The new record takes the same emotional themes and infuses them with more grit and maturity. Their unique blend of grungy garage rock and shoegaze pop perfectly complements Lucinda’s dynamic vocal, which flips from delicate melody to raw fury between bars. The lyrics impart a turbulent cacophony of emotions, openly covering suicide, assault, depression and recovery, with a few sweet love songs thrown in. Ultimately it’s a complex, emotional and deeply relatable record, and impressive achievement for a first album.

To celebrate the album release, they recently embarked on a co-headline tour with London indie-punks Nervus. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Lucinda Livingstone (vocals + guitar) and Conor Dawson (drums) ahead of their show at The Smokehouse in Ipswich to discuss their new album, the difficulty of writing such personal songs, and the frustrations and misconceptions they’ve encontered along the way. Continue reading “An Interview with Kamikaze Girls”