Interview with Grand Collapse’s Calvin Sewell

We chat to Welsh thrashcore heavyweights Grand Collapse about their song-writing inspiration, their recent tour and their ideal Sunday.

Interview by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Pay No More Than Photography. Article photos by Alia Thomas.

In recent years Grand Collapse have become one of my favourite bands. Their live performances carry enough force to knock your teeth out; they take seriously fast, intense thrash to new heights.

Although the sheer force of their music is in itself a pleasure, they stand apart from other hardcore bands by adding in classic 80’s metal grooves and fusing it together though sterling musicianship. There’s also a strong political undercurrent in the songs. Listening at home, this might only become clear if you’re reading the lyric sheet, but the band often incorporate it into their live shows by pausing to discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time. Watching Grand Collapse injects fire straight into your veins; there’s a fury and beauty that’s hard not to love. Their album Along The Dew, released on TNS Records earlier this year, is also a stunning demonstration of musical talent and hardcore force.

I was lucky enough to catch up with singer, Calvin Sewell, just before their recent gig at The Smokehouse in Ipswich (check out my review of the show here). For someone fronting a hardcore band, Calvin seems to write with his heart on his sleeve, putting a lot of emotion and care into his words and his approach. I was keen to find out a bit more.

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Welcome to Ipswich! You’ve come a long way – South Wales and Bristol, right?

We’re all from different spots around South Wales but myself and Jon have emigrated to Bristol.

How did Grand Collapse first get started?

Nothing spectacular; we’re all the around the same age, from the same area, and all into fast / heavy music so inevitably you find each other. The other lads had played in several bands like Four Letter Word, Rejected and Threat Manifesto amongst others and we all knew each other vaguely from going to gigs. I wanted to start a band around that time and those three people made sense, so I told each of them that the other two were involved before they had even agreed and on that basis they all said ‘yes’!

Your second album, Along The Dew, was released earlier this year. How have you found the reaction so far?

Pretty decent. We’re stoked with this one. I think we learnt quite a lot whilst making the first record that helped us whilst writing and recording this one. It’s a lot closer to the mark sound wise and stylistically to where we want to be.

You’ve got such a genre-defying sound that I think people struggle to know what other bands to compare you to. What were you listening to when you recorded the album? Are they are any acts that have really inspired you?

Zeke. Rush. Propagandhi. Bane. Def Leppard. Motorhead. Death. Sick of It All. Conflict.

It’s also a lot more polished than your average hardcore band. What was the recording process like?

We work with Lewis Johns at The Ranch in Southampton. It’s a great place to record and Lewis is a fucking wizard. We gave ourselves a bit more time with this one so it was less rushed and we had a better idea of how we wanted to it to sound as a whole record rather than just a collection of songs. It’s a lot more chaotic and aggressive than the first. Continue reading “Interview with Grand Collapse’s Calvin Sewell”

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.

Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings Special: Claire & Craig [Part 3 of 3]”

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!

Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]”

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. Continue reading “An Interview with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro [Part 2 of 2]”

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.

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What 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]”

Spoilers: Interview with Dan Goatham

Jake chats to Dan about the new Spoilers album, new 7 Day Conspiracy material and old days in the Kent punk-scene.

Interview by Jake Jeremy. Photos by Mark Richards.

Dan Goatham is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Kent’s finest melodic punk band: Spoilers.

I’ve known Dan ever since my early ska-punk playing days around the dirge of the Medway towns. Back then then he fronted 7 Day Conspiracy, a band who produced politically-charged punk anthems that made them one of the South East’s most sought after acts.

Spoilers are Dan’s latest project of many. They’re a 4-piece melodic punk act with a knack for writing tunes that are catchier than chlamydia and a whole lot less irritating. Back in 2015 they released their first EP Stay Afloat and they’ve since become a regular name on the UK live circuit.

I spoke to Dan just after his set at The Smokehouse in Ipswich, on a bill that also included Causal Nausea and Grand Collapse (check out our review here). Here’s what we got up to…

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Shout Louder: I’m joined by Dan Goatham from… Spoilers, Southport, 7 Day Conspiracy, Melchett… Are there any bands I’m missing?

Dan: I played in a band called Morgan’s Puff Adder when I was growing up. They were a ska-punk band in Kent. That was like 15, 16, maybe 17 years ago.

Shout Louder: Wow, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time! [Check out their Myspace page here] I was in a ska punk band in Kent so I definitely remember MPA.

Dan: The Throwoffs?

Shout Louder: OK, less about me! [Both laugh awkwardly and knowingly.] Let’s talk Spoilers and specifically your influences. I’ve noticed that your vocal delivery is very Leatherface.

Dan: Yeah, very Leatherface, although some of the early stuff that Frankie [Stubbs] did was quite high, a lot of the stuff he did is quite low and he doesn’t push it too hard. But, yeah, they’re a massive influence throughout Spoilers in general. Everyone is a big fan of Leatherface. Continue reading “Spoilers: Interview with Dan Goatham”