Disgraceland: The slow-and-steady DIY punk approach [Interview]

We speak to heavy rock ‘n’ roll punks Disgraceland about their influences, their recent releases and their patient approach to the DIY punk rock race.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Disgraceland are a relatively new heavy punk ‘n’ roll band from Plymouth, ideal for fans of The Stooges, Dead Kennedys, Reverend Horton Heat or The Jim Jones Revue. Since their inception in 2018, they’ve released two EPs had have picked up some exciting live dates in the South of England.

Featuring Shout Louder’s very own Ollie Stygall on guitar, we had an in depth chat with him about the band’s inception, direction and slow-and-steady-wins-the-race approach.

You’re a new band, but by no means new to the world of punk rock. What projects have you been involved with in the past?

We’ve all been around the block several times over and have clocked up a lot of miles in different bands.

Foz (drums) and I spent 14 years in a band called Grifter who were classed by people as stoner rock, although I hate that term and just thought of us as a rock and roll band. We did OK, put out a couple of albums on an American label, released stuff on a few other labels, did some touring, went to Europe, etc. Foz has also spent time many years ago in a death metal band, a psychobilly band called The Lost Souls and various punk bands: Mr. Pound, Swak Tang, The Obnoxious UK to name a few. Continue reading “Disgraceland: The slow-and-steady DIY punk approach [Interview]”

Fabled Mind: Songwriting & Starting Afresh [Interview]

We spoke to Fabled Mind about Copenhagen, their fast melodic punk roots, songwriting, and how it feels to be part of the Lockjaw Records Crew.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Fabled Mind released their debut album Passenger on Lockjaw Records on 22 November 2019. Formed in Copenhagen earlier in 2019, the band have landed onto the scene fully formed, and have event completed their first UK tour. They’re a fresh Danish response to bands like RX Bandits, Millencolin and Rise Against – combining irresistible melodies with technical skate-punk composition and meaningful lyrics.

Fabled Mind is the brain child of Dion Finne, who wrote the album before going on to form the full band with Leo Wallin, Brian Brinksby and Søren Olsen. We were keen to find out why Dion chose to approach the new project that way, how he goes about writing songs, and what their future plans are.

Fabled Mind will be returning to the UK in January to play our weekender Do It Together Fest at New Cross Inn, London. Find out more here.

Fabled Mind is a brand new project. It’s unusual for a group to record a full album before even announcing that they’re band. What motivated you to take that approach?

I wrote this album as a personal ’challenge’ since my other band Stream City went on a break. I’ve always wanted to write punk rock songs, but SC quickly developed into something else – more experimental and progressive. So I took a couple of steps back and focused on writing directly from the heart. That’s how the album took shape.

Was Fabled Mind more of a creative challenge or an emotional outlet for you?

I would say both. It was a relief to write songs within a genre that I love, and the lyrics came easy to me. I spent many hours on them, but the album’s theme revolves around more personal stuff than I’m used to writing, so it felt easier and more sincere. I kept my song writing style from SC, but the tracks are more focused and streamlined on Passenger.

There’s a real melee of influences present in the album. Did you set out to create a new sound?

I did that with Stream City, but it was never the ‘goal’ with this album. I restricted myself to writing more straightforward songs and often stopped myself in the process from writing a super weird off-beat riff or creating odd song structures that I’m used to.

It was a fun challenge and I think the ‘new sound’ is a reflection of wanting to write simple, catchy and recognisable songs. I guess the album landed somewhere in between that and the weird DNA of SC.

As I understand it, you wrote a lot of Fabled Mind’s material yourself, then pulled on other musicians to help create the band. How much of the writing did you have control over?

I did all the writing myself – mostly in my boxers. I wrote 12-14 demos in my little home studio and sent them to my friend Mattias (bassist in Stream City and Co-Producer / Engineer on Passenger). He’s not really into punk rock, but he has an opinion on my writing and voicing if it’s good or hideous. He would write something like “nice” or “yuck” and I would know if/how to continue from there. He would also give me constructive criticism.

In any creative process, it’s important to have someone to ‘take out the thrash’ – at least to me. I’m constantly seeking approval when I write songs. I would send 20 seconds clips and expect people to have an opinion about it (since, at the time, I didn’t have a band). I’ve undoubtedly annoyed all of friends and family members.

What do you find best about that approach?

100% control over the process; which was both nice and an absolute pain in the ass. It also means that the album is a direct reflection of my inner thoughts and my take on punk rock.

It should be noted that I am the king of procrastination- sometimes I didn’t work on the album for months and almost quit the whole thing. There was no one anxiously awaiting the album’s release and no one to pull me out of my writer’s block. It still felt right to deliver a finished product.

How did you go about recording the album?

We recorded the guitars, vocals and bass at Mattias’ studio (Driftwood Studios), then Leo and myself recorded the drums in his practice room. For the bass and guitars we used an Axe FX and I recorded the vocals while Mattias played Hearthstone in the background. But he was there through the whole process to help when I fucked up the electronics.

You’ve previously said that Entangled is your attempt at writing an uplifting song, incorporating some of your experiences from social work. What do you find most inspiring when you’re writing?

I’m inspired by the stories of the people that I meet in my everyday life; friends, family and coworkers. The young people I meet through my work as a teacher / social worker often live an unjust life in many ways, where the “best social system in the world” fails them in every imaginable way.

Denmark’s social administration is frightened biocratically and has some extremely damaging mechanisms. There are too many young people who are lost in the system and left to fend for themselves. They are often left with loneliness, emptiness, depression and anxiety, some choose to self-medicate, while others deteriorate at home without any network to help them.

When I hear their stories and their thoughts, I often get ideas to write from a dystopian perspective. So many people are oblivious to this, especially in Denmark. I like to feel like I’m giving them a voice through some of the songs. Erwing Goffman, among others, inspired me a lot.

You’ve incorporated a lot of political or social themes into the lyrics, but they’re quite metaphorical. Are there any messages you’re keen to convey?

In general Passenger is an invitation to reflect. The lyrics are open to interpretation and l’d like to keep it that way for now. Every track has it’s own story or message and I’ve always been a fan of the ‘showing not telling’ way of writing songs.

What are you hoping for listeners to get from the album? What can we expect?

Fast, melodic and catchy tunes with some heart. I think the songs grow on you and it’s going take a couple of listens before you’re in tune with the FM universe. I hope listeners have the patience to listen through and appreciate the details.

What inspired the name Fabled Mind?

Same with the lyrics – I like to keep it open for interpretation. To me, it’s a reference to our subjective perception of reality. Fabled can mean fictitious or non-existing and we all have our own ‘right’ view on how the world works, but the truth is that reality is subjective.

Tell us a bit about your musical career – what brought you to Fabled Mind?

I started Stream City 12 years ago, as a punk rock band. The band developed into something completely different, but my love and interest for punk rock never did. I went to as many punk shows as I could in Copenhagen and really connected with the people there.

I went on a European Tour with Stars Burn Stripes (ex-Forever Unclean) as a stand-in guitarist before the band dismantled. We also played Punk Rock Holiday, which really made me want to play in a band again. I’m so proud of the one album Stream City did (HOAX), but when people started to leave the band I had to look elsewhere.

Since there’s no real punk scene in Denmark- I decided to start a new project. It was never my intention to make the songs public –I just wanted to share them with my friends and family. And here we are two years later.

What did you grow up listening to?

My parents played in a band called Love Explosion with my mom as the singer and my dad on guitar in the 70’s. They were hippies – I vividly remember my dad rocking out to Queen, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and a few legendary Danish singers. My brother introduced me to Metallica, System of a Down, Defones, KoRn and Slipknot. He had an amazing CD collection, so I would often steal one, listen to it and get beaten up for stealing it.

The first album I ever bought was Dookie. I had heard someone play the album at ‘Skater House’ in Bornholm, Rønne where I’m from. The next record I bought was Americana. I loved everything about it: the pace, the melodies, the lyrics, the vocals. Those albums really got me interested in the genre and from there I was searching for punk bands on Google with my dad’s high tech 56k internet connection. Obviously I discovered NOFX, Bad Religion, Anti-flag, Pennywise, Rise Against, Satanic Surfers, etc. The bands we all love.

How has your taste developed now? Do you listen to a variety to help improve your own songwriting?

I’ve been listening to a lot of progressive rock and metal earlier in my life hence the crazy Stream City universe. I still listen to classical music from time to time when I need to escape from reality. For the past couple of years, I’ve mainly focused on punk music because it seems like there’s quality bands popping up everywhere. I really love the wave of techy brilliant bands from the UK (The Human Project, Dead Neck, Fair Do’s, Darko, etc.).

I’m looking forward to writing songs again, I’ll always move in a different direction for each album. I’m going to stick to the core concept, but it will be very different with a fair amount of new inspirations.

What are your ambitions for Fabled Mind in future?

I’m stoked to be associated with many of my favourite bands at the moment. I really love a lot of the Lockjaw bands and what a great start this project has gotten. Just being able to play in the UK after three months of existing is amazing!

I see this album as the beginning of a new journey and sort of a stepping-stone for me and the rest of Fabled Mind. It’s my ambition to improve my songwriting and take people by surprise on every release. I’m really looking forward to meeting like-minded people around the world and share stages with awesome bands! It’s always scary to put out music and be the ‘new kid in school’, so I’m anxious to see what people will think about the album…

Be sure to listen to Fabled Mind’s full album Passenger. Fabled Mind will be returning to the UK in January to play our weekender Do It Together Fest at New Cross Inn, London, alongside bands like Lightyear, The JB Conspiracy and Forever Unclean. Find out more here. 

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Punk Rock Tour Tales #1: Leo from Forever Unclean

Leo Wallin, drummer of Forever Unclean, tell us about his best, worst and weirdest tour stories.

Punk Rock Tour Tales is a new Shout Louder feature, where we interview bands about their tour stories. Read them all here.

Leo Wallin is a well-known part of the Copenhagen punk rock crew: he’s drummed in Forever Unclean, Fabled Mind, Rebuke, Megafonzie, Kill The Rooster, Stars Burn Stripes… and probably a whole bunch of other bands we don’t know about!

Sarah asked him about his best, worst and weirdest tour experiences.

Of the touring you’ve done, what’s been your favourite so far?

That is a tough one, and we have discussed it within the band so many times. But I’d probably say overall it was touring Australia for three weeks in 2018. Some of my dearest friends live there, and the Australian people in general are fucking awesome. The scene is also pretty rad and the standards of the Oz bands are stellar… And then there is the climate, the sights, the beaches, the fauna. Whether you are playing shows or not, it’s really just a big old holiday paradise. Continue reading “Punk Rock Tour Tales #1: Leo from Forever Unclean”

Press Club: The Transformative Power of an Album

Sarah discusses the joy of falling in love with ‘Wasted Energy’, the new album from frenetic Melbourne indie-punks Press Club.

Article by Sarah Williams.

It’s a rare and unique pleasure to discover an album that soundtracks a passage of your life. 

We’re swimming in music videos, live streams and status updates; bombarded with new music every day; our tastes made by algorithms and cookie-crumbs of personalised advertising. Where technology has opened the gates of production to any guitarist with a half-decent laptop, for listeners it’s created an overwhelming and (as much as we’d hate to admit it) often disposable deluge of singles and playlists.

Previously a big collector, even I have eschewed buying CDs and vinyl since I’ve had Spotify readily available on my phone. The majority of my listening takes places via playlists, either ones I’ve made myself or those curated by people I respect. Playlists are an exciting voyage of musical discovery and appeal to the romantic tradition of making mix tapes, but it’s a fast-paced and high-volume form of listening.

My life reflects my listening. I’m constantly on the verge of burn-out: trying to squeeze too many things into my waking hours. I listen to a vast amount of new music in the search for something genuinely interesting, but rarely do I take the time to fully absorb a new release. 

Press Club Wasted Energy.jpg

Press Club have infiltrated my life in secret, and become the key to pressing the pause button when I need it. I saw them a couple of times earlier in the year, at Manchester Punk Festival and Groezrock. There’s no denying that they’re an exceptional band: everyone’s saying it and the jam-packed rooms of fans prove it. 

When Wasted Energy was released on 16 August 2019, I was excited. Moreover, my social timelines exploded with ‘album of the year’ accolades from peers I respect.  

I listened and I thought, “This is great, but I’m not sure it deserves the hype.”

Forever plagued by a snobbish and insecure habit of falling out-of-love with a band whenever they become successful (I’m talking about The Offspring, Green Day and Frank Turner here, not your local DIY heroes), I worried this old malady has come back to haunt me.

Despite my initial lack of excitement, I’ve found myself listening to Wasted Energy a lot. When someone pops round for tea, I stick it on in the background, as it’s easy to listen to. At work, I’ve put it on for the same reason – it’s good and inoffensive. In the car, it’s a great soundtrack to a long drive with a picky passenger.

Slowly, but surely, Wasted Energy crept into my life, gaining a slow-burn of repeat listens and charring an imprint on my daily consciousness.  Until, on my way to work, I realised it’s my instant first choice when I open my library of music. I’m mouthing the words on public transport in that mildly embarrassing but fuck-it-I’m-hardly-the-maddest-person-on-the-bus way.

The album had become background listening for me but, one day suddenly Behave with its impassioned refrain, “Behave, just like a woman,” stood out to me. On the first few listens to Wasted Energy, Behave hadn’t shone particularly brightly, but once I was deeply wrapped in Press Club’s sound it suddenly exploded when I finally took the time to listen.

Now I’m picking up Wasted Energy multiple times as a day, feeling its embrace like a warm blanket, synesthesia sparking muted autumnal auburns and forest greens in my head when I listen. At a time when my life is changing, Wasted Energy is holding my hand, helping me with the transition. When I listen to it, I feel renewed. 

The future is that I’ll play it to death, bordering on the point of private obsession. Like Fair Do’sLeopards and Darko’s Bonsai Mammoth in 2018 and 2017 respectively, I’ll repeat Wasted Energy until I know every intimate minutiae. Then I’ll drop it and it’ll become a warm shadow of that period of my life, intertwined with memories, smells and feelings of the autumn.

Self-described as, “The musical embodiment of the attitude of a generation experiencing impermanence in every way,” Press Club understand my passing obsession with their sound. It’s a theme on the album, through Obsession and Thinking About You.

All their recordings are put to tape live, using a console from the 70’s, rooting their recordings in a familiar, rich warmth, like a favourite jumper, whilst also capturing a transient sense of urgency. It’s the vintage sound that allows Press Club to stand out in a flood of new music. While fresh, frenetic and full of power, the guitars hark back to 90’s grunge, the rhythm conjures flashbacks of blurry basement shows, and the vocals call out glimpses of soul and timeless icons. Natalie Foster’s voice is a love affair in vocal form. 

Now, three months after its release, I can’t even begin to fathom how an album could top Wasted Energy in 2019. It’s a time stamp on this passage of my life, and a repeat listen in ten years will instantly bring back these autumn memories.

Here’s the self-care I’d recommend for you today: find yourself an album and fall in love with it.

To experience the joy for yourself, you can pick up Wasted Energy on one of the most attractive vinyl pressings I’ve ever seen from a range of outlets. It’s out on Hassle Records now. 

One Story Of Recovering From Mental Illness

Sarah shares her story of a year of recovering from depression, exploring the challenges and the stigma attached to it.

Written by Sarah Williams for World Mental Health Day 2019. Trigger warning: suicide.

On Mental Health Awareness Day last year, I somewhat ironically published an article about the horrors of depression, and the relief of overcoming it. I say ironic, because a few days after publishing it, I tried to kill myself.

I fucked it up, and then tried again about a month later. And then again, a third time, in December. 

At the time I remember being frustrated and embarrassed that I couldn’t even do that properly. Suicide is really fucking difficult. Also, the chairs they have in A&E treatment rooms are so uncomfortable it’s really not worth the hassle. 

That was a year ago. Three suicide attempts between October and December 2018. Looking back, my sole focus for the last 12 months has been on trying to get better. And you know what? I am better. Continue reading “One Story Of Recovering From Mental Illness”

The Best Ways To Support Independent Records Labels (From The Labels Themselves)

Sarah speaks to the owners of small, independent record labels, to understand the best way people can support them and to demystify some preconceptions about small music businesses.

Written by Sarah Williams.

We’re currently running a competition to support small record labels, where you can win a massive bundle of vinyl, CDs and other goodies. Head to our Instagram to enter.

The role of the record label has changed in recent years. Small, independent DIY labels are popping up all the time, but they don’t have the capital to fund recordings or the clout to market bands to a mainstream audience, as a label would have done traditionally.

Instead, many of the record labels we love are started at kitchen tables by keen music lovers,often to help their friends or to release their own band’s music. Nowadays, record labels are a helping hand, a word of advice, financial support and a labour of love.

Outside of Shout Louder, I’m part of a team that keep the cogs turning at Lockjaw Records. Although we’re relatively well established, we’re not doing anything for profit. The reward for our hard work is seeing our bands reach new listeners and play bigger stages. Many label proprietors are passionate punk rockers, who simply want to keep the scene alive.

I spoke to some of the small labels I respect the most, to understand how best to support them. Continue reading “The Best Ways To Support Independent Records Labels (From The Labels Themselves)”

Vanilla Pod: Gone But Not Forgotten [Interview]

After over 20 years together, Kings Lynn’s favourite punks Vanilla Pod called it a day in 2018. We’ve chronicled the history of this classic band with the help of guitarist Steve Pod.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

After twenty three (twenty three!) years as a band, notorious Kings Lynn punks Vanilla Pod decided to call it a day in late 2018. They chose to go out with a bang, completing a long run of live dates around the UK, releasing a final farewell EP Goodbye My Love and hosting one final Podstock event as a hometown send off.

It was quite the fanfare for a band who, while remaining relatively humble, have had a major influence on many people within the UK punk scene (and further afield). One of my earliest punk rock memories was catching Vanilla Pod playing a glorious grotty venue in my seaside hometown at approximately the age of 14, by which time they’d already been going for nearly a decade. I remember finding them on a Rock Sound compilation and being impressed that they were playing down the road for only £3 on-the-door.

Since then there have been many memorable (and some perhaps less memorable!) experiences with Vanilla Pod involved – chaotic club nights, quieter acoustic sets, celebratory, nostalgic weekends at Podstock and that-one-time-at-WonkFest that no one forgets.

Before the split, I spoke to guitarist Steve Pitcher (who, as far as I’m concerned, shall always be known as Steve Pod) to document some of the bands’ history. Continue reading “Vanilla Pod: Gone But Not Forgotten [Interview]”