The Crash Mats: Pies, Panpipes and the Dizzy Heights of Rockstardom [Interview]

“We’re like a Tunnock’s tea-cake. We’re dead soft and squidgy on the top and round the middle, but we’re hardcore underneath.”

The Crash Mats are hands-down one of the most entertaining live acts I have ever seen. They’re a damn good band that blend elements of punk, ska and hardcore, but their real talent lies in 24-carat comedy.

They’ve recently put out their second album 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics on Manchester DIY label Horn & Hoof. It’s a rollicking ride through 21 classic tunes, including: Don’t Tell Mum That The Babysitter’s Dead, I Don’t Want To Go To Grandma’s House Tonight and My Girlfriend Only Has 24 Hours To Live. It’s a genuine feel-good album, reflecting the gargantuan level of fun you are guaranteed at their live shows.

Interrogating three such distinguished gentlemen as these is a rare opportunity, so I jumped at the chance to interview Oldham’s finest shortly after their set at Wotsit Called Fest.

It turns out that Danny Barrett a.k.a. Evil Bazz (vocals + bass), Dan Royales a.k.a. Seniòr Royales (guitar) and Chris ‘da beat’ Webb (drums) are even more hilarious in person than they are on stage. Huddled in a corner of the dingy backroom of The Palace in Hastings, surrounded by punks loading in instruments and beer floating in buckets of half-melted ice, we had a deeply poignant and meaningful discussion.

21742879_1389810017801180_5757606020152797451_n.jpg

You’ve just come off stage at Wotsit Called Fest. You’re rock stars. How do you feel?

  • Royales: Well, I always said to my Mum – “Just you watch.” After seeing Queen I said, “Mum, I’m gonna be a rock star.” It don’t surprise me at all.
  • Bazz: We’ve reached the dizzy heights of Freddy Mercury here, playing Wotsit Called Festival. Next we’re getting a plane to LA and playing twice in one day.
  • Shout Louder: You mean you don’t have a helicopter?
  • Royales: Not yet. The Crash Copter is out of action at the moment, it’s coming next week.

You’ve recently released a new album: 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. What inspired your song writing?

  • Bazz: Cannabis, professional wrestling and my Grandma.
  • Royales: We watched a documentary about 14th century French art and that’s where we got our inspiration.
  • Bazz: It is pretty deep, if you scratch beneath the surface. Below the thin veneer of intelligence.

Have you considered learning the pan pipes?

  • Chris: We were going to do it for the album, but we’re just too modest. If Bazz started playing the pan pipes at a gig he’d just steal the show. He’s prevented himself from playing the pan pipes for the good of The Crash Mats, I think.

Continue reading “The Crash Mats: Pies, Panpipes and the Dizzy Heights of Rockstardom [Interview]”

Gig Review: Might As Well Fest III (07/10/2017)

An exciting London charity all-dayer featuring Kamikaze Girls, Almedia, Eat Defeat, The Burnt Tapes, Sombulance and more.

Photo credit: Awesome pics courtesy of Roberto Gasparro @ LivePix.

Now in its third year, Might As Well Fest is socially-responsible all dayer split across two tiny London venues: The Macbeth in Hoxton and the infamous Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. If the cracking line-up isn’t enough to coax people down, the promoters are also using the forces of music for good, raising money for two worthy causes: CALM and SANDS.

When I hurriedly stumble into The Macbeth at 3.20pm, I’m concerned that I’m late but turns out that I needn’t have worried: they’ve had some troubles of their own. Don Blake and Sweet Little Machine have pulled out last minute, and You Know The Drill’s van has broken down outside Birmingham. As a result, they’ve had to shift timings, drum kits, amps and expectations. The change in the set times is actually a positive: the opening bands will now have a bigger crowd and the heel-draggers like me, who couldn’t make it earlier, won’t be missing out. Nonetheless, I’m reminded that we ought to be extremely thankful to anyone with the resilience to put on DIY shows!

eat-defeat_37548912202_o

A handful of early-birds assemble to watch Thirteen, a Scottish group who’ve joined the bill at the last minute. They play old school punk with a rock ‘n’ roll flavour, which is good, but slightly out-of-sorts with the rest of the line-up, which is a combination of fast-punk and pop-punk. It’s good pub-punk and not a bad way to kick things off for the day.

As I reviewed their EP recently, I have been very excited to catch Our Lives In Cinema live. This is only their 8th gig and their freshness shows: they look a little awkward on stage at the beginning of the set, settling in after two songs.

They open with Cut and Run – an awesome throwback to a lot of energetic early noughties punk. You can hear a strong Jeff Rosenstock influence in Mark Bartlett’s frantic, emotional singing which is conveyed better live. Bartlett has a unique style of performance: he packs as many words into a bar as possible while shaking around the stage. Currently it looks a little awkward, but with more practice I expect it to become an integral part of their act. Otherwise, they’ve got a good, solid rhythm section, strong drumming and great backing vocals. They close on their most anthemic song, I Got This, leaving the audience happy. Once they’ve got a few more shows under their belt, I look forward to seeing a much more confident and comfortable band.

Lay It On The Line are up next at The Macbeth. They’re the most hardcore band of the day. It’s a brutal and disordered performance, with frontman Mike spending much of show writhing, crouched or lying on the stage while screaming bloody murder. He gives the impression of a man on the edge of breakdown extremely well. It’s all held together with some warmer guitar backing, adding a more melodic edge to their otherwise extreme sound.

It’s unusual to see bands with two standalone singers (Casual Nausea’s the only one I can think of), but it really works. Mike and Alice and equally adept at screaming and conveying a lot of anger and emotion. It’s hard to make out the lyrics but their explanations of the songs are both surprising and entertaining – one song’s dedicated to fans of the Marquis de Sade (of which they assume there are none in the room), another is about a head teacher who was killed by a rent boy after he failed to pay up…  It’s fascinating to know what inspires people’s song writing sometimes. They pull out a fantastic cover of Rotting Out’s Positive Views and end the set in a wail of feedback.

recap_36911139293_o

Recap are up next, and they are fantastic. That’s the least you can expect from Dave House and Mark Pavey’s latest project – a reincarnation of Pacer and follow-up to The Steal. They jokingly say it’s only their second show, but they’re anything but new to the game. Continue reading “Gig Review: Might As Well Fest III (07/10/2017)”

Album Review: The Crash Mats – 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics

The Oldham trio have just released 28 minutes of irreverent ska/punk ‘n’ roll nonsense that captures all the energy and hilarity of their live shows. FFO: Snuff, Teenage Bottlerocket and having a good time.

This weekend super-fun ska punks The Crash Mats released their second album 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. It’s 28 minutes of solid comedy gold, out on Horn & Hoof records now. Spoiler alert: there’s not a panpipe in sight.

The trio from Oldham have been around since 2008, and yet ‘maturity’ is the last word you’d use to describe this record. Their songs are short, snappy punk ditties and that can’t fail to plaster a grin on your face, covering such thought-provoking topics as The North, getting high and how your parents may react to finding a dead babysitter. If you’ve had the joy of catching The Crash Mats live before, you’ll know they’re unbelievably fast and fun. Before I saw them I’d never had the opportuntity to skank along to the Chucklevision theme tune and I am eternally grateful to them for that. 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics take all of that energy and delivers it staight to your living room.

The Crash Mats 69 Peruvian Pan Pipe Classics

The album opens with an invitation to join them on a Hot Air Balloon Ride (“Would you like a ride in my hot air balloon?”), rolling through to Drive Me to Drink (“You drive me to drink, you drive me to drink.”) and heavier Oldham’s National Anthem (“Meat pie, chips and gravy!”). The Crash Mats are by no means lyrical genuises, but they sure do get their point across. It’s fun on record, but the drunken-singalong potential live is second-to-none. Continue reading “Album Review: The Crash Mats – 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics”

Album Review: Matilda’s Scoundrels – As The Tide Turns

The first full-length release from this Hastings’ sextet is a masterstroke in modern aggro-folk. FFO: Roughneck Riot, Levellers and Dropkick Murphys.

A few weeks ago, TNS Records posted a teaser for the debut Matilda’s Scoundrels album. I squealed, spilled coffee on my keyboard and got laughed at by my colleagues, before immediately hitting BUY on their pre-order.

Matilda’s Scoundrels formed in 2014 and have since honed their act through hard-graft, rum and good-natured dispositions, touring restlessly around the UK and Europe. They have earned a reputation as a can’t-miss band on the UK DIY circuit for their rambunctious performances. It’s hard to compete with songs like Pisshead’s Anthem, from their EP Crowley’s Curse, for a better boozy crowd-pleaser. One of my favourite memories is their opening set at 2016’s Manchester Punk Festival: despite the early hour, they instantly transformed Sound Control into a boozy brawl, complete with crowd-surfing in an inflatable dinghy.

With raucous drinking bands like Matilda’s there’s always a risk that their recorded material will not stand up to their live show, and I’d argue that their previous release Crowley’s Curse and their split with The Barracks didn’t do justice to their outstanding performances. Fortunately, they’ve exceeded themselves with As The Tide Turns: every songs sounds as good recorded as it does live, if not better.

Matilda's Scoundrels As The Tide Turns.jpg

The 10-track album uses a familiar formula: protest songs played fast on traditional instruments, accompanied by angry vocals, overdriven guitars and a tendency towards inebriation. It’s designed for drinking, dancing and disorder.

However, As The Tide Turns is much more than a rowdy folk album. The top recording quality allows the variety of layered instrumentation to shine in a way that you cannot appreciate in a live setting, adding a real depth and authenticity to their sound. Listen to the album through a decent stereo, and marvel at the amount of thought and skill that’s gone into these compositions.   Continue reading “Album Review: Matilda’s Scoundrels – As The Tide Turns”

Why I Love Punk Rock: Guest Article from Colin Clark

Colin’s Punk Rock World is one of the best punk blogs out there. Colin and I are swapping posts, so he can shout about why he loves punk so much.

Hello! My name is Colin and I write for the punk rock blog Colin’s Punk Rock World (or CPRW for short). A few months ago I cyber bumped into Sarah from Shout Louder, this blog you’re currently reading. After initially trying to recruit her for CPRW we struck up a friendship and decided to do some blog swaps and some collaborations. The first of these blog swaps will be pieces on why we love punk rock so much. So why do I, Colin from Colin’s Punk Rock World (CPRW for short) love punk rock so much?

21013421_10154696934761791_1860153755_n
Colin enjoying some punk rock pizza.

I feel like that before I really begin I should give a brief account of how I first discovered punk rock. I, like many of you reading this was a teenager who was slowly finding out who they were. It was 1998 and The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) was just released. I didn’t know The Offspring’s previous punk rock history or that this was even punk rock music but I was hooked and eventually got the album Americana that Christmas. Soon I discovered more punk bands such as Green Day and Blink 182 before digging slightly deeper and eventually discovering bands like Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, New Found Glory and Dropkick Murphys. I loved these bands but it wasn’t what really tipped me over the edge of becoming fully obsessed with punk rock. It was eventually discovering underground UK bands such as [Spunge], Lightyear, Capdown, Jesse James, King Prawn and 4ft Fingers. I discovered these bands and my life changed forever.

So why do I love punk rock so much? Well first of all it’s the music. That’s blatantly obvious. If you’re reading this post it’s probably because you love punk rock music as well, so you know that it’s the best type of music. It’s fast, it’s fun, you can sing-along, it makes you dance, you can relate, you can learn, it’s passionate, it’s energetic and most importantly it’s an escape. Everyone needs some escapism in their lives, something to take them away from all of the rubbish that goes on around them on a personal level as well as a global one. There’s no better feeling than putting on your favourite record and singing along to every word. As well as just being a whole lot of fun there’s a comforting feeling to it, like spending time with an old friend. I did tell a little lie there, there is one better feeling – hearing these songs played live, in a small sweaty basement or bar and screaming along to the songs with your new best friends. I’ll talk more about live music and the people a little further down the page because next I want to talk about learning from punk rock music. Continue reading “Why I Love Punk Rock: Guest Article from Colin Clark”

BONO! : You’ve Got To Hear This [Band Profile]

Pit-inducing, aggressive East Anglian hardcore for fans of Bones Brigade, Darko and Spermbirds.

Bono No escape

BONO! are a 5-piece hardcore band from sunny Norwich, who are intriguingly named after the world’s most famous turd.  Founded on anger, frustration and an apparent distrust for songs lasting longer than 90 seconds, they deliver frantically aggressive pit-smashing live shows.

I caught them supporting Matilda’s Scoundrels about a week after moving to Ipswich, and spent at least 15-minutes drunkenly babbling at them, telling them how much fun they were in a teeny tiny room above an Irish pub. They have also inspired one of the glorious YouTube comments I’ve ever read, on their video for new track No Escape:

Youtube Comment.jpg

Their first release was an awesome a 5-minute self-titled EP in March 2016, which followed it this year with new EP No Escape!  It’s a dark and energetic selection of songs, bound to tear a hole in any live audience. Continue reading “BONO! : You’ve Got To Hear This [Band Profile]”

Grand Collapse: You’ve Got To Hear This [Band Profile]

Intense, technical hardcore for fans of Trash Talk, Propaghandi and face-melting thrash punk.

19029273_782673381891959_1096106247970414112_n

When I first saw Grand Collapse they completely blew me away.  Their unrelentingly fast thrash is fuelled by aggression and frustration, and underpinned by impressive musicianship. Listening to Grand Collapse is the musical equivalent of jumping over the edge of a giant waterfall and tumbling into the unknown: a frantic mix of adrenaline, shock and awe.

Live they are savagely intense, likely to inspire either mosh pit chaos or the end of the world. The last performance I saw was in the basement of Sound Control at this year’s Manchester Punk Festival, where at least one of my friends spent the whole set standing slack-jawed in awe of what they were witnessing.

After the astounding assault of their live shows their records do not disappoint.  Their first album Far From The Callous Crowd is a firm favourite of mine, and recent follow up Along The Dew is 29 minutes and 49 seconds of raw energy. Both are tightly produced, allowing you to appreciate the intricate intrumental layering, outstanding guitar work and heavy double-kick annihilation. Calvin Sewell’s hoarse vocal adds a percussive punch, threatening to fall apart at any moment. Live or on record they are to be enjoyed extremely loud and overwhelmingly fast; every bar is a joyous assault on the senses.

I have the distinct pleasure of seeing Grand Collapse at Punx Inna Jungle later today (if I survive until 1am), but you can check them out at Common Ground Festival and around the country later in the year.

Along The Dew was released on TNS Records earlier this year. If you’re a fan of face-meltingly fast, technically excellent hardcore you’d be a fool not to buy it.

You can stream, download or buy a copy here:
TNS RECORDS (UK) http://bit.ly/2qQFsA0
RUIN NATION (EU) http://bit.ly/2qy0thw
BANDCAMP http://bit.ly/2pgtfjC
YOUTUBE http://bit.ly/2qUqysn