Waterweed Interview: Japanese Melodic Hardcore Heavyweights

Read our in-depth interview with Osaka’s Waterweed ahead of their UK tour this month.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Japanese melodic hardcore heavyweights Waterweed have caused a ruckus in the UK punk scene lately. First, it was announced that they’d be making an appearance at Manchester Punk Festival. Then we heard that Lockjaw Records would be releasing their second album Brightest in the UK. Finally, a further flurry of exciting dates across the UK and mainland Europe have popped up.

Skate-punk fans may already be well aware of Waterweed, as a relatively big act in Japan, but as they’ve never visited Europe and never had a release here before, you can’t be blamed if you’ve not heard of them. We were keen to find out more about the band, the tour and the album, so we spoke to singer/bassist Tomohiro Ohga.

I am so excited to see you live at Manchester Punk Festival, and on your tour around the UK and mainland Europe! Is this your first time in the UK?

This is our first European tour. Outside of Japan, we have also toured in South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia.

What part of the trip are you most excited about?

Everything, I think! The scenery, sounds and smells in Europe will be a new experience for me.  Looking forward to finding some new inspiration.

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Which bands you are looking forward to playing with most?

We are very excited to be performing with Satanic Surfers in Paris. When Waterweed was first formed, we listened to Hero of Our Time and were deeply impressed. We saw their show in Japan and are honored to perform together with a band we admire.

Also, we are performing with Propagandhi and Iron Chic at Manchester Punk Festival. Not on the same date, but also honored to be involved with the same music festival. We are playing on the same day as Death By Stereo. They came to the venue I work at during their Japan tour last year. I started liking them even more after seeing their great performance and personality. I’m also looking forward to performing with Darko and Bare Teeth after we join them, Almeida and Belvedere on a Japanese tour booked by the RNR crew. Continue reading “Waterweed Interview: Japanese Melodic Hardcore Heavyweights”

Lightyear Interview: “You’re Either There Or You’re Not”

An in-depth interview with Chas Palmer-Williams of 90’s ska-punk heroes, Lightyear.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Piano Slug.

Lightyear are a band who need no introduction. They are infamous on the UK ska punk scene, known for their live antics (see: pantomime horses, morris dancing, gratuitous nudity), off-beat referential lyrics and multiple ‘last ever shows’. 2018 marks a huge milestone year in their career. Now permanently reformed, Lightyear are headlining Manchester Punk Festival plus Level Up festival and fitting in a handful of club shows, however their big news is that they’re crowdfunding to create a documentary telling the story of the UK 90’s punk scene.

This Music Doesn’t Belong To You aims to document the un-documented years when UK’s 2nd wave of punk exploded in the late 90s. As Lightyear put it, “It was a golden era of innocence, passion and debauchery,” which has so far gone unrecorded. At the time of writing, This Music Doesn’t Belong To You has just reached 100% funding, after a long pledge campaign. You can still visit Pledge Music to buy the film and assist with funding.

We had an in-depth conversation with singer Chas Palmer-Williams about the documentary, the development of the underground music scene and what we can expect in the future of Lightyear.

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Welcome back! What took you so long?

Life got in the way. We’ve all become (believe it or not) adult, with kids and stuff. We decided we really wanted to hang out again and make new music. We always felt like we had a third album in us; the second album wasn’t quite the end. We’re writing again and seeing how it comes out, and hopefully we’ll do another album. We’re back on it!

It’s great to hear you’re writing new music! Was it tempting just to turn up and play the hits?

For me personally there’s nothing worse than an old band who are just playing the old hits and not writing new music. If you play a song that you wrote when you were 18 about breaking up with someone and then you keep on playing it without writing anything new to put it into context, then it feels really weird. It’s almost like writing a book but you keep reading the first chapter and there’s no end chapter.

You’ve permanently reformed! ‘Permanent’ is a big word. Do you think you’ll still be playing together when you’re in a nursing home?

I don’t know if I want to be in a nursing home with Neil because he’s a weirdo.

I don’t want to be that band that just stands there blurting out the hits for the sake of doing it. I want to be able to jump around and mean what I say, express it and let loose. We’re pretty shit anyway, but when we get shitter we’d just knock it on the head, but we won’t make a big announcement.

Of course, you did make a big announcement back in the day.

When we were younger we were married to the band, it was everything. We were rehearsing 2-3 times a week, doing nearly 300 shows a year. It took priority over weddings and funerals – someone would die and we’d keep on touring. It was unquestionable dedication and then when that stopped it was this huge vacuum in my life. All of a sudden there was nothing. That totally span me out and I ended up living in a squat in Amsterdam; it went all mad for a while. The big statements and ultimatums all seem a bit dramatic now that we’re older.

Continue reading “Lightyear Interview: “You’re Either There Or You’re Not””

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]”

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]”

Interview with Pizzatramp: Britain’s Most Raucous Punk Band

Wales’ most hilarious thrash-punk trio talk about their Bangertronic LP, live-show chaos and all the different versions of ‘Hope You Fucking Die’.

Interview by Sarah Williams. Photos by the ever-excellent Hold My Pint.

Pizzatramp have taken the UK punk scene by storm. They keep playing to bigger, wilder crowds and they’re virtually a household name in DIY circles. They hurl 30 second thrash tracks out at breakneck pace, sending audiences across the country into a frenzy. They’re also utterly hilarious, peppering their performances with unpretentious skits, one-liners and in-jokes.

In January they put out a new album on TNS Records: Revenge of the Bangertronic Dan + 13 Songs. As it says on the tin, it’s their Bangertronic EP with a selection of their 13 most popular tracks throw in, now available in shiny 12’’ format. You can get it direct from TNS on random coloured vinyl, or you can pick up a fetching grey copy from the band.

We spoke to vocalist/guitarist Jimmy The Macho Man Savage (he insisted I call him that) about the new record, the insanity of their live shows and all the hilarious variants of their song Hope You Fucking Die.

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You’ve just released Revenge of the Bangertronic Dan + 13 Songs on vinyl via TNS Records.

Yep, our cynical cash grab one, that’s right.

Tell me how that first came about.

We recorded the EP last year. We were going to record another album but all our cars were broken and our old van was broken. We needed to get some money from somewhere and get a van really quick, so we had 8 songs and we risked it. We released it on these little thin cardboard wallets that are really cheap to produce, but then Bev and Andy [from TNS Records] said hang on a minute, are TNS releasing this or are you releasing it?

We said, “We’re not being rude or anything, but we need £2,000 immediately. If we sit and make it for ourselves and sell it for a fiver then we’ll hopefully get the money we need.” So, we did that and we promised TNS they could do the vinyl.

We released the CD independently, earned the money for the van and then we went to press it on vinyl. The problem is that our albums are so short… on Blowing Chunks people kept complaining that there was nothing on the B-side, and when people tried to put it on it was knackering their vinyl players. We had to put something on the other side. Everyone’s asked us for the old songs on vinyl so we re-mastered them, to make it sound like we put some effort into it.

Continue reading “Interview with Pizzatramp: Britain’s Most Raucous Punk Band”

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]”