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”

Exclusive: Darko Premiere New ‘Lifeblood’ Video

Watch of our exclusive preview of Darko’s brand new video!

Shout Louder are proud to bring you an exclusive preview of the brand new video from melodic hardcore masters, Darko. The band have a history of creating videos that are as entertaining and skillful as their music, to which this is no exception.

Lifeblood is a song about feeling trapped and undervalued in a job, but trying to remember that you are the lifeblood. As Dan says in the song, “We call them bastards, yet they need us to succeed.”

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” Gothe

Rob Piper, guitarist in Darko and director of the video, says that he tried to reflect that sentiment by creating an uneasy, claustrophobic film. In it vocalist Dan Smith is shown with his hands tied behind a chair, sitting placidly while his own shadow rages inside him. Using a series of tight, edgy close-ups and a grim, grey setting the video successfully captures the feeling of entrapment that comes with any job that you cannot break free of.

Lifeblood is the third single to be taken from their brilliant album Bonsai Mammoth (Shout Louder’s Album of The Year 2017), after Hiraeth and Just A Short Line. You can purchase the album from Lockjaw Records, if you haven’t already.

This is an active season for Darko, who will be touring Japan, Australia and the UK in the coming weeks. Closer to home they are touring with Japanese wonders Waterweed, including an appearance at Manchester Punk Festival and a club show at The Star Inn, in their hometown of Guildford. Later on they’ll be slaying Glasgow, Norwich, Bristol, London, Stafford and Southampton with A Wilhelm Scream.

This week they’re playing five dates in Japan as part of the Punk Rules Okay tour with Belvedere, Waterweed, Almeida and Bare Teeth (jealous!). They will be taking in Shinjuku, Nagoya, Osaka and Kofu (keep an eye out for a write-up of the tour on Shout Louder in the near future…). After that, they are heading to Australia with The Decline, celebrated by possibly the best tour poster ever (see below).

If you’d like to hear more, be sure to follow Darko on Facebook and YouTube. Also, read the interview Rob Piper did for Shout Louder to celebrate the birthday of Bonsai Mammoth. If you liked the video, make sure you check out his aerial videography company, Skyline Futures. Multi-talented bastards.

Album Review: Waterweed – Brightest

The new album from Japan’s Waterweed is the perfect mix of heavy and melodic, due for release on Lockjaw Records in April.

Review by Joëlle Laes.

“I have something you might like”, Sarah said. To say I was excited to review Waterweed’s Brightest is an understatement. I’ve been trying to get my hands on it since it came out in 2017 but outside of Japan it’s nearly impossible to find. Thanks to Lockjaw Records it’ll be widely available in Europe from April 6th!

That’s not all: this Japanese band will embark on their first European tour in April as well. They’ll start off in the UK and head to the mainland as well to play in the Netherlands, France, Czech Republic and Germany. Audiences can expect to be floored by their heavy approach to melodic hardcore… it’s a rare opportunity to enjoy bands from the thriving Japanese punk scene on our Western shores. This is a do not miss.

I must say I’m already a Waterweed fan. I am quite fond of their earlier records but was a bit worried when I heard mixed things about Brightest. “They became soft. It’s too poppy. It’s not fast enough,” some fans said. As far as I’m concerned, they are dead wrong. This album is a perfect mix of heavy and melodic.

The first song Red Eyes definitely sets the pace, though the tracks that follow appeal to me far more. From the second track Beyond The Ocean onward, the album becomes a lot more melodic and the vocal harmonies flow together smoothly, which leaves me excited for what’s left to come on the album. Continue reading “Album Review: Waterweed – Brightest”

Exclusive Stream: Money Left To Burn ‘Vs’ The Affect Heuristic

Don’t miss this sneak peek of Lockjaw Records’ freshest melodic hardcore release!

We are immensely excited to give you an exclusive first listen to the new split from melodic hardcore aficionados Money Left To Burn and The Affect Heuristic. We were utterly blown away the first time we heard it so we couldn’t wait to share it with you.

VS is due for release on Lockjaw Records on Saturday 24th March, however you should pre-order it today to ensure you get two exclusive free gifts with your record!

Until now, the free gifts have been top secret, however we are pleased to reveal that all CDs pre-ordered from Lockjaw with be sent with a poster of Mark Bell’s incredible album artwork (who wouldn’t want that on their wall?) and *drumroll please* two variations of super-hot sauce handmade by Cedric from The Affect Heuristic! The marvelously named Bernie Bumhole hot sauce is totally vegan, so suitable for anyone who likes obliterating heat. You don’t get free hot sauce unless you pre-order the album so don’t hang about!

If hot sauce isn’t enough of a draw and you actually, God forbid, give more of a fuck about the music, then I can assure that VS is easily the most exciting record I’ve heard so far this year. It’s a ten-track melodic hardcore tour de force. It’s the third offering from Nuremberg’s finest skate-punks Money Left To Burn and the first recording from exciting new Belgian/Scottish act The Affect Heuristic. It’s aggressive, high-octane and very melodic. You’re going to love it.

It’s hard to explain why I’ve been so excited to hear new music from The Affect Heuristic, but I’ve been on tenterhooks for this record since it was first announced. Maybe it’s their intriguing choice of name, their unusual Belgian and Scottish origins or the fact they’re already part of Lockjaw’s legendary roster. Whichever it is, the first taste of their progressive/metallic take on melodic hardcore does not disappoint.

Without further ado, wrap your ears around these two exclusive tunes:

Continue reading “Exclusive Stream: Money Left To Burn ‘Vs’ The Affect Heuristic”

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]”

Darko: One Year on from Bonsai Mammoth [Interview]

We speak to Rob Piper of Darko / Lockjaw Records about their intentions for 2018 and their sterling album Bonsai Mammoth, ahead of its first anniversary.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

If you have haplessly stumbled across Shout Louder in the past, you may have heard us mention Darko once or twice. They were our Album of The Year 2017, one of the top acts at Punk Rock Holiday and a lot of other shows. Okay, so maybe we’re a little obsessed with them. Shuttup.

We love them enough that we have convinced them to play our birthday party (Feb 2nd at The Smokehouse in Ipswich) as a warm up for their album anniversary party on February 3rd. They are throwing a big shindig at The Boileroom in Guildford to celebrate a year since the release of their incredible melodic hardcore opus Bonsai Mammoth.

Darko have been around for quite a few years and have always struck me as one of the most talented, hardworking and savvy bands in the scene. Their recordings and their live shows are delivered with stark in-the-moment passion, but there’s an intellectual undercurrent that shines in many of their lyrics and their complex compositions.

To get to know them a bit better, I spoke to guitarist Rob Piper, who also looks after the infamous Lockjaw Records, home to some impressive punk and hardcore acts.

It’s nearly a year since you released Bonsai Mammoth. I’m sure I’m not the only one to put it in my top picks of 2017. How have you found the reaction to it?

Well firstly, thanks loads for your support and kind words about the record; it means alot to know people are enjoying the album. This year has flown past. We’ve had a lot of fun touring the new tracks, hearing people’s reactions and seeing people sing or scream along with us.

Darko had been together for a long time before Bonsai Mammoth, so it feels like success has been a slow burn for you. Do you think there was a particular turning point for the band?

For me I think the biggest success with Darko was finding four other members that can put up with each others shit and share the same ‘can do’ attitude to just go for it, unphased by how popular the genre is, just doing it because we love playing our music live. When we first started the band I had no idea we would be touring Japan and touring to Greece and back. Since releasing our very first EP in 2010, we have hit lots of milestones which I would class as successes. I think myself fortunate for the experiences we have shared and hopefully will share in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

Where did the title Bonsai Mammoth come from?

From what I remember, the original phrase was coined on one of the many long van journeys across mainland europe, most probably scooting the autobahn. A plethora of seemingly random phrases and noises are produced from the cabin on these journeys. A lot of it is bollocks but some is thought provoking and meaningful… In some opinions.

With Sea of Trees, Bonsai Mammoth and a lot of the lyrical content in a lot of your songs, there seems to be an underlying nature theme. Is that a deliberate choice? If not, why do you think that theme comes across?

From Trust to Conformity and the Sea of Trees EP both follow a concept which involves nature versus machine, so I’d say it was more intentional in those two records than the full length. Nature is a such an epic spectrum; it encompasses the reasons why we are alive and how we interact with the earth. I think it’s important for all of us in the band to recognise this and, when writing, it makes sense to use nature to help describe scenes and relay emotions with metaphors. I think each of our personal ecosystems can be compared to the planet and being aware to treat ourselves with respect, as we need to do to the world, to try and avoid the heavy pressures causing poor health. Continue reading “Darko: One Year on from Bonsai Mammoth [Interview]”

Top 5 Album Releases of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite picks from a year of brilliant new albums.

Article by Sarah Williams.

By sticking to the classic Top 5 format for our end-of-year round-up, I’ve really made a rod for my own back. It would be easier to write a Top 10 or a Top 40 with all the amazing releases this year.

As a result, there are some surprising absences from my Top 5. Propagandhi’s Victory Lap has received a lot of repeat play at Shout Louder HQ, but I’d still take any of these smaller bands over it. Bear Trade, Matilda’s Scoundrels and 88 Fingers Louie have all put out brilliant full-lengths. I’m a huge fan of The Smith Street Band, but for me More Scared of You Than You Are of Me just doesn’t have the sheer gut-wrenching emotive force of their earlier releases. I feel similarly about The MenzingersAfter The Party.

Shamefully, I’ve not given enough time to Iron Chic’s You Can’t Stay Here or Hard GirlsFloating Now to include them, although I know I’m going to become obsessed with both. I only recently heard Hateful Monday’s Unfrightened but that would definitely be on the Top 5 if I had got to it sooner! There are also plenty of less punk releases that I have enjoyed. If you’re into Canadian hardcore then You’re Not You Anymore by Counterparts will be a highlight. One of my other favourites has been Thundercat’s Drunk – it’s fabulously eclectic stoner/soul/nu-jazz stuff.

I have one final thing to mention before I get on with it: the new Only Strangers album. The release has been pushed back to 2018, but had it been released in December as planned there is no doubt that it would be in my Top 5. I’ve been rinsing a pre-release copy on repeat for weeks. If you like gruff melodic punk like The Burnt Tapes, Hot Water Music or Iron Chic, keep an eye out for the release in the next few weeks.

Finally, here are my Top 5 Albums of 2017:

#5: Aerial Salad – Roach

Aerial Salad Roach Cover

Aerial Salad are a refreshing suprise. There is something exciting about their debut album that I can’t explain; it has a modern-classic air to it. Songs like Habits and Problems are instantly memorable and relatable. The bassline on Check My Mind is as comforting as your pulse. The opening line to 97, ‘I just told my Mum I’m gonna kill myself, it’s so easy now,’ is so raw it burns. Roach is an album with guts.

It’s even more suprising that the album sounds refreshing, because in many way it’s copy-cat familiar: Aerial Salad’s sound is reminiscent of bands like Greenday, PUP, Gnarwolves, Jawbreaker and Nirvana. The is a raw quality to the production and rough delivery that makes the album sound fresh, unique and special. Discovering Roach is like finding £50 discarded and trampled in the street. Give it a listen and get ready to become obsessed.

Check out our 2-part interview with Jamie Munro here and here, plus our review of Roach here.

 

#4: Gnarwolves – Outsiders

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Gnarwolves are a somewhat marmite band within the scene, but for me Outsiders is merely further proof that they can do no wrong musically. From the warm, plaintive opening of Straightjacket I am completely and utterly hooked. ‘I found love at the bottoms of bottles, the edges of twilight where my Sunday slips into my Monday,’ is a fitting introduction to Thom Weeks’ evocative and memorable songwriting. The album then cascades through equally dark and uplifting tracks like Wires and Paint Me A Martyr, full of appealing melodies, hooks and infectious refrains. Continue reading “Top 5 Album Releases of 2017”