Triple Sundae Interview: Hard-Earned Peace of Mind

Mark speaks to Hassan from London’s indie-punk lovelies Triple Sundae about their smashing new EP Peace of Mind.

Interview by Mark Bartlett.

London’s marvellous melodic-punk 4-piece Triple Sundae have just released their new EP Peace of Mind through Umlaut Records. It’s the perfect primer for the summer and the bands most focused, accomplished effort to date. It’s full of amazing songwriting and sugary, addictive melodies across its three great tracks.

I caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Hassan Afaneh to talk about the band’s future, his inspirations and the state of the UK music scene.

How did Triple Sundae come to be?

Triple Sundae came around at the tail end of 2013 when I had hit up Mike [Smith, guitarist] about wanting to start a band. I was in a really dark place following some pretty shit events within my personal life and it had been two years since I’d played in a punk-oriented band. That outlet was very much needed. A couple of months of finding members and song-writing sessions went by and then boom Tripsun was born in February 2014.

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Have you all played in bands previously or do any of you moonlight in other projects?

Each of us have played in bands prior to Triple Sundae (and during!).

I’ve played in punk bands, emo bands, hardcore bands, ska bands, acoustic bands, neo-soul bands… it goes on. I was only ever good at playing music, so to preserve my sanity I was jumping on project after project!

As well as TS, I play in On a Hiding to Nothing, Zandro drums for Lead Shot Hazard and Andy had started a project named Postcards. One thing is for certain though – we have all played in ska bands at one point in our lives. Ska lives bro.

How would you describe your sound to someone? Is there a genre within punk you feel especially akin to?

If you like anything on Side One Dummy, Jade Tree Records or Quote Unquote then you’ll probably dig it. Continue reading “Triple Sundae Interview: Hard-Earned Peace of Mind”

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]”

Gig Alert: Cinemania Fest

Check out this bangin’ melodic punk line-up hitting London on March 3rd!

Shout Louder’s very own Mark Bartlett has put together a blindingly good all-dayer in South London, to celebrate the release of Our Lives In Cinema‘s new EP All Talk and Triple Sundae‘s new single Indecisive, both out on Umlaut Records in the near future. They’ve curated an exciting collection of up-and-coming bands from around the country, all of whom are linked by a talent for fast, catchy, hooky melodies. In short: fun.

The lineup includes some incredible bands, such as Manchester’s freshest power-punks Aerial Salad, melodic fast-punk favourites Captain Trips and London’s own Triple Sundae, who will no doubt be playing some tunes from their seriously exicting new record.

You’re also going to fall in love with Arms & Hearts, a solo singer-songwriter with one hell of a voice, in the style of Brian Fallon or Chuck Ragan. You’ll walk out of the gig desperately wanting to get his beautiful lyrics tattooed all over you. If that’s not your thing, FastFade and Second In Line will bring you back into the fast-punk game. Continue reading “Gig Alert: Cinemania Fest”

All Talk #2: Are You Trying Hard Enough?

Mark Bartlett dissects the magic of recording, songwriting democracy and why we should all contribute to the art we enjoy.

Check Out: All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?

Hi, I’m Mark Bartlett, lead singer of obscure London emo/pop-punk/post-hardcore/whatever-punks Our Lives In Cinema.

Bands, let’s all examine our work ethic for a moment…

I want to look as excited as I actually feel but I’m just really, really sleepy (and still recovering from a nasty bout of flu). It’s the first of 5 days of recording our new EP All Talk at The Clubhouse in Tunbridge Wells with Ricky Beetlestone. The spirit is absolutely willing but there are giant fuck-off bags under my eyes and a tired rashness to my cheeks that’s making me look like Phil Mitchell at peak booziness.

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I finished work at 2am last night, which meant I was forced to get the N199 night bus outside Charing Cross with all the pissed up Friday night misfits, thus eventually crawling into bed at 3:45am. This isn’t ideal for a 7:45 wake-up time. To be fair, I don’t have to do anything today apart from be here and give approving nods and dismissive headshakes.

I know absolutely fuck all about the technical aspects of the recording process so, after meeting all round nice chap Ricky and lugging a few drum bits around, I snuggled into the leather sofa at the back to try and have a nap. Actually, I did pause to be suitably impressed by the monolithic mixing desk, which seemingly had 500 different dials and doohickeys that a luddite like myself could never comprehend.

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Despite my sleepiness (that I hope didn’t come off as apathetic rudeness to our new producer friend), I am excited. This is the best part of being in a band. We’re making a record; it’s going into the digital cloud to live forever and provide some evidence to future society about exactly who their silly ancestors were.

And this is where the internal panic sets in and confidence turns to doubt. Are all the parts up to scratch? Are the songs too long? Will people hate my voice as much as I do? Are the lyrics cringey? Is this the best we can do? Continue reading “All Talk #2: Are You Trying Hard Enough?”

All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?

Mark Bartlett examines the trials and rewards of slogging away determinedly in punk scene, in the first of a new series of opinion pieces.

Hi, I’m Mark Bartlett, lead singer of obscure London emo-punks Our Lives In Cinema.

I’m currently in my bed. It’s raining outside; the wind is fucking noisy. I’m really tired and I’ve got a stinking cold. My eyeballs hurt as I’m writing, probably because I don’t own a computer and do all of my writing on the pages app on my phone.

I get myself pretty stressed out, and I feel like I have too much on my plate what with having a full time job (with very strange shift patterns) and all the demands associated with that. Next week my band is going into the studio to record EP no. 2 All Talk. We are also hosting a big charity fest/release party on March 3rd in Kingston, with some of my favourite UK bands. We are going to make new videos, get new merch and press ahead full steam with our plans for 2018.

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When I get stressed out, my wife Ruth always asks why I don’t just drop a bunch of stuff (and get off my phone). After all… hobbies are supposed to be fun and relaxing right? I agreed. I resolved to quit social media and stop being such a try-hard, try to write some songs and be ‘off grid’ for a bit.

This lasted for one week max. A fortnight later, I’ve started organising a festival and taken on all the other stuff that comes with releasing a new record. This forced me to think about why I bother and what the overall point is. I think it’s important every now and then to re-examine why you’re in a band in the first place, give yourself a little bit of self-therapy and re-adjust your expectations accordingly. Continue reading “All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?”

Album Review: Jeff Rosenstock – Post-

Mark takes a listen to Jeff’s surprise new record, dropped unexpectedly in our laps on New Year’s Day. FFO: Early Weezer, The Smith Street Band and Joyce Manor.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

My level of fandom for punk savant Jeff Rosenstock currently resembles the awe I felt as a tween discovering rock music for the very first time. I know that Jeff would feel very uncomfortable being labelled as a genius or some kind of scene saviour, but this self-deprecating, humbled outlook is all part of a package that has made Jeff my favourite musician and a personal inspiration.

What it ultimately comes down to is generosity and good intentions; Jeff and his previous band Bomb The Music Industry have always been about channeling all of that exciting punk rock energy into being the best person you can be, inclusiveness and an ethical code that allows everybody to enjoy his music for free and to attend safe, cheap shows. It doesn’t hurt that Jeff and the band release fantastic albums on a very regular basis that seamlessly blend punk, pop, indie, hardcore and ska, as well as touring endlessly.

Jeff Rosenstock post Album release Facebook quote.pngI assumed that Jeff would need to recharge for a little bit following the long haul promoting 2016’s Worry, but on New Year’s Day Jeff generously decided to bestow a brand new studio album Post- on us for free via Bandcamp and Quote Unquote Records with no warning or fanfare. Initially, as was the case with Worry, Post- feels a little underwhelming in the wake of its immediate predecessor. As with all of Rosenstock’s albums it takes a few listens to fully absorb all of the great things about Jeff’s songwriting. However, 40 plays later I can happily confirm that Post- continues the streak of excellence that previous releases Worry and We Cool established, but in some unexpected ways.

PUP Jeff Rosenstock Quote

Opener USA is a mammoth 7 minutes and sets the blueprint for all that follows. Jeff’s voice is stronger; a little bit of vocal restraint being exercised in service of songwriting. Post- was written in the wake of Trump’s election and a lot of the subject matter is reflective of the collective anxiety we’re all living in; “I fought the law, but the law was cheating,” is one of the best lyrics on the record. The explosive, “We’re tired, we’re bored,” refrain at the end is another example of Jeff’s ability to put several main chorus-worthy hooks into a single song.

Yr Throat is a personal highlight. It kicks off with an almost Iron Maiden-ish gallop before exploding into a big earworm chorus that reminds me of Boys And Girls In America-era Hold Steady thanks to Dan Potthast’s lovely keys. There’s a bright, hopeful clap-along middle section that filled me with joy from the first time I heard it.

We then have my undisputed favourite All This Useless Energy, which has a Weezer Blue Album vibe with its mid-tempo chug and sombre opening riff. The verse is one of the best melodies that Jeff has ever sung. It concludes with my favourite closure to any Rosenstock song: “Oh please, you’re not fooling anyone when you say you tried your best. Because you can’t be your best anything when you can’t get any rest.”

Powerlessness is a jaunty, faster song more reminiscent of a track from We Cool than anything else here. It’s a great song but probably still my least favourite here.

TV Stars is a big dreamy, Beatlesy ballad, with big harmonies and lush full instrumentation. It’s really mature songwriting and in the hands of any big pop artist would be a hit single (I don’t mean that as a negative, though).

Melba is amazing and for most fans it’ll probably be the standout track, as it includes arguably the strongest chorus on the record. It seamless segues into the immediate, short and simple pop of Beating My Head Against A Wall which is insanely catchy.

Another highlight in an album full of highlights is the Laura Stevenson duet 9/10, which is another lovely keyboard-driven ballad. It feels like a musical departure of sorts, moreso than anything else on the album. John Dedomenici’s bass playing really stands out here.

Jeff likes to close out his albums pretty bombastically and, in typical fashion, Let Them Win is an 11 minute slow stomp of a protest song that finishes things perfectly.

Overall, I’d say even though Post- is relatively short, and doesn’t quite hit the heady highs of Worry, it is still consistently brilliant and a continuation of Jeff’s seemingly never-ending winning streak.

You have no reason not to check this out right now.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

Album Review: Aerial Salad – Roach

Aerial Salad’s debut is refreshingly raw, angsty punk. FFO: Greenday, Jawbreaker and Wonk Unit.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

As 2017 draws to its conclusion, it’s becoming more and more apparent that this is a banner year for underground UK punk. Trends in music are cyclical. I personally feel the current hordes of identikit easy-core bands are about to succumb to a new wave of diverse, substantial and purposeful punk rock bands, much like how the hair metal and gimmicky glam of the late ‘80’s was melted away by Sub-Pop, Epitaph, Reprise and Fat Wreck Chords. We’re lucky to be in a musical climate where you can see an amazing home-grown punk band every week without fail (and without spending a lot of money either!).

Manchester 3-piece Aerial Salad’s debut album Roach has (in my estimation at least) leaped right to the top of the pile in a year choc-full of quality releases across every sub-genre in the UK punk spectrum.

It’s a perfect storm of everything I look for in a first release; it’s focussed, confident and passionate. It boasts muscular production that stands toe-to-toe with major studio albums, and it’s filled to the brim with total belters. Everything here sounds large, from the stadium-sized drums to the rich crunch of the guitar work on offer, as well as throaty, full vocals that sit perfectly within the mix. Overall it all sounds pretty immaculate.

Aerial Salad Roach Cover

Before this review reads like it’s entirely gushing praise, it’s important to address the few flaws that steer Roach away from perfection. Aerial Salad are shooting for a sound that marries huge, early Green Day hooks to the raw grit of Jawbreaker, and they succeed, but as consequence Aerial Salad aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here. We’re in the strict territory of 3-chord punk rock and the quiet-loud-quiet-loud dynamics of Nirvana. It’s derivative. I could also argue that the song-writing here is somewhat formulaic, with classic pop-punk chord patterns that we’ve all heard many times over.

It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. Aerial Salad, despite binding themselves to a strict sonic template, are utterly convincing and assured at every point on Roach. Vocalist/guitarist Jamie Munro has a really strong understanding of how to reel in the listener. His voice has a raspy drawl that emulates both Billie Joe Armstrong’s snotty enthusiasm and Kurt Cobain’s angsty inflections. Continue reading “Album Review: Aerial Salad – Roach”