Four Days Following A Wilhelm Scream On Tour [Column]

Sarah spent a long weekend following melodic hardcore legends, A Wilhelm Scream, on their UK tour with Darko. This is her personal account of the sweatiest weekend of the year.

Article by Sarah Williams. Images from Cold Front Photography, taken at The Star & Garter, Manchester.

It’s sweltering. I’m screaming. There’s a crush of bodies all around me, elbows and fists and softer parts, heaving and desperately scrabbling for space. Every surface is slick with sweat. I turn around just in time to catch a boot to the face, as singer Nuno Pereira is hoisted above the pit, trailing the mic cable, still belting the lyrics out.

He circles above the crowd before being gently propped back onto the the stage, where he immediately bounces back to scream out the chorus. I’m crushed against the edge of the stage and, when I look up, he’s literally dripping a waterfall of sweat straight on to all of us in the front row.

A Wilhelm Scream Live Manchester cred Josh Sumner 3.jpg

It’s the longest, hottest day of the year, and the air feels ripe with anticipation for the chaos that A Wilhelm Scream bring on tour with them, unleashing raw, unbridled energy on stage every single night. This 5-piece melodic hardcore whirlwind have journeyed from their hometown in New Bedford, Massachusetts for a month-long tour, beginning with 7 dates in the UK with Shout Louder faves Darko.

I’ve been known to go to absurd lengths for the love of punk rock and this weekend will be no exception. Taking every chance to see one of the world’s most incendiary live bands, I decided to catch them in Manchester, Norwich, London and Stafford. Fortunately, I managed to convince Tree (of MPF/Anarchistic Undertones fame) to join me, so I wasn’t alone for the ride.

A Wilhelm Scream Live Manchester cred Josh Sumner 7.jpg

Friday: Manchester

Manchester’s show at the Star & Garter is unquestionably the best gig I’ve been to this year (and I’ve seen Propagandhi twice). Perhaps it’s the intense heat. Perhaps it’s the crush of friends at the front. Perhaps it’s the insanely good performance from one of my all time favourite bands…  or perhaps it was the excitement of knowing I get to do it all again for the next three days. Continue reading “Four Days Following A Wilhelm Scream On Tour [Column]”

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]”

Gig Review: The JB Conspiracy @ The Waterfront [09/11/2017]

The JB Conspiracy play This Machine in full to celebrate 10 years since its release, at The Waterfront in Norwich.

Reven by Sarah Williams.

When The JB Conspiracy announced that would be touring to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of This Machine I nearly fell off my chair.

Have I seriously been listening to This Machine for 10 whole years? God knows how many times I’ve played it. It was on constant repeat through most of 2008-10 for me and I regularly revisit it. I can honestly say that it is one of my favourite albums of all time, and certainly one of the only releases from 10 years ago that I still feel is every bit as relevant now as it was then.

The record has a timeless quality that has enabled it to surpass many of the other albums of it’s time. Although they’re a ska punk band, it’s an awful lot more than that. The instrumentation is second to none; there’s a huge amount of intelligence and love that’s gone into all of the parts, especially the sterling horn section. They keep a dancing pace throughout the record that’s impossible to resist. This eight-piece from London have been going for an awfully long time and they’re still just as lively as ever.

Before the show I run into Bobble (of Faintest Idea fame) and ask him how the tour is going so far, as he’s playing trombone with The JB. “I get to play This Machine every single night!” he says, “Every night! This is the best thing ever!”

JB Conspiracy This Machine Tour

I amble into The Waterfront in Norwich just as Jim Higgs is starting his set. He’s got a roster of heartfelt pop songs, which he accompanies with some springy acoustic guitar. He’s got a delightfully smooth voice to go with it, and throws a Dido cover into a set filled with appealing original tunes.

Local three-piece Other Half are up next. When I picked up their album earlier this year it quickly jumped up the list of my favourite recent releases, so I’ve been quite excited to see them live again. It’s angsty, atmospheric indie-punk with a brilliant blend of male and female vocals, very much on par with bands like Hard Girls.

Disaster strikes at the end of the first song when Cal’s guitar string breaks, starting off a quite hilarious series of quips and tales of awkwardness. “Mr Soundman,” Cal asks, “Can I turn up the distortion on my guitar to hide all the mistakes?” He asks bassist, Sophie, to fill in on the talking while he tunes up. She he looks discomforted by this prospect, but she goes on to tell us a story of how bad her day has gone, which has the entire audience in stitches. Their stage presence is delightfully awkward and works perfectly with their moody, introspective sound. The highlight of their set is Misery Movement, the title track from their album, which I recommend you all check out. Continue reading “Gig Review: The JB Conspiracy @ The Waterfront [09/11/2017]”