Random Hand: Can’t Stop Changing Plans [Interview]

Joe Tilston discusses Random Hand’s hiatus, their return to the stage and what they’ve been plotting in the meantime!

Interview by Sarah Williams. Photos nicked from Bev, from RH’s ‘last’ Manchester show.

It is hard to measure the impact that Random Hand have had on my life. They’ve been going since 2002, but I think I stumbled across them in 2007 when I first heard Scum Triumphant. They were one of the first small bands that I became properly obsessed with, so therefore they became my gateway into DIY. Literally, this website would not exist if Random Hand hadn’t been there to kick-start my gig addiction. I also wouldn’t own half as many sweat-encrusted band t-shirts.

For many years, Random Hand were one of the most explosive bands in UK ska-punk. Back in 2015 they announced that they were going on hiatus for a couple of years. Although they never used the words ‘break-up’ themselves, there was uproar in the punk community and many promoters billed their farewell tour as their last ever gigs. The news was especially shocking coming from a band who were a mainstay of the live circuit. No matter how many gigs they played, they always gave 110%, guaranteeing the best loud, sweaty and raucous performances you could wish for.

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The news of the hiatus was delivered alongside a crowd-funding campaign for a self-released album as a farewell gift to their fans. Hit Reset dropped on 13th September 2015, just as they came off stage at their final, incendiary gig at The Camden Underworld. The album was an unusual parting gift (particularly as they weren’t playing it live) and an opportunity to record with the final iteration of their line-up.

Robin Leitch (vocals/trombone), Joe Tilston (bass), Dan Walsh (guitar) and Sean Howe (drums) recently announced that they would be reuniting in 2018. Their first gig back is in their home town of Leeds, followed quickly by Manchester Punk Festival. They are also releasing their first album Change of Plan on vinyl via TNS Records. It’s a gorgeous red record, encased in an updated version of Si Mitchell’s classic artwork, due for release on February 9th.

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I sat down with Joe Tilston to discuss their plans for the new year and to get some insight into why they left us in the first place.

Random Hand are back! Why now?

We were very honest about it being a hiatus. I know some promoters weren’t quite as honest and said it was our last gig on occasions, but on our social media statuses and at every gig we always said it was a hiatus. It’s a break. If anyone asked anything beyond that we said, “We need two years off.” That was the watershed; having two years off and seeing where that took us.

It literally ticked over two years. I was on the phone to Robin just after he’d finished one of the projects he was working on and we said, “Shall we have a practice then?” That was it, really! It was one week less than two years that we had our first practice back. I think we all just needed the head space. We needed to let it go, not think about it and become our own people. Continue reading “Random Hand: Can’t Stop Changing Plans [Interview]”

Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite gigs of 2017.

Article by Sarah Williams.

This was an unbelievably tough call. I’ve been to more gigs this year than I ever have before, and the vast majority of them have been worth shouting about. It’d probably be easier to do Top 5 Worst Gigs.

Strangely, some of the best gigs I’ve seen haven’t been punk at all. I spent a lot of this year working at The Smokehouse, a DIY music venue in Ipswich, so I’ve attended a lot of shows that I wouldn’t normally give time to. Easily my most memorable gig this year was Rich Quick, a fast lyrical MC from Philadelphia. The night was quite poorly attended, which meant that those of us behind the bar could actually go and enjoy the performance. Rich spent the whole set roaming through the crowd, rapping straight in our faces and handing out prints of his artwork. It was really unique, intimate and one that I’ll be telling people about in years to come.

Two of my other favourite shows (that didn’t make the cut) were Run The Jewels at the Albert Hall in Manchester, and the Youngblood Brass Band at Islington Assembly Hall in London. Although both performances were incredible, energetic and extremely memorable in their own right, it was the venues that really set these two gigs apart. The Albert Hall is a restored Wesleyan chapel with wood panels, stained glass windows and a huge pipe organ that was a quirky contrast to RTJ’s emblematic fist-and-gun stage display. Islington Assembly Hall is a Grade 2 listed hall full of 1930s art deco features, including a sprung wood floor that made it so much fun to dance around to the band.

But, after much deliberation, I managed to select these five shows as my top gigs of the year:

#5: Descendents @ Kentish Town Forum, London

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This gig would have been higher up my list if it weren’t for the support acts. Without being disrespectful of The Kenneths and Abrasive Wheels (who are both good in their own right), when you’re paying £35 a ticket you expect to see bands closer to the genre and calibre of Descendents. As such the evening felt a bit disconnected.

That being said, Descendents turned up and put on an unbelievable show. Opening with Everything Sux, they charged through 32 hits back-to-back, including not one but two encores. I’ve never seen a crowd demand two encores before, but it was absolutely warranted in this case. They’re as tight and accomplished as you would expect of a band their size. There wan’t a single moment in the set that I didn’t really enjoy.

Check out our review of the gig here.

 

#4: Kick The Crutches All-Dayer @ The New Cross Inn

As far as I’m concerned, this gig is what DIY punk is all about. £5 for 12 bands. A brilliant venue in London. Record label distros. A relaxed atmosphere and a line-up that didn’t stop. It was a completely accessible day of music in London.

Better-known acts like The Kimberly Steaks and Pizzatramp (and Vanilla Pod, although they had to pull out last-minute) are worth going to see on their own, so as part of an all-dayer they’re a fantastic excuse to rock up and check out some band you’re less familiar with. My biggest take-away from the day was Bristolian act Neitzsche Trigger Finger, easily one of the strangest and most entrancing I’ve seen all year. I also got to catch Fastfade, Strange Planes and On A Hiding To Nothing for the first time, and completely loved all of them. It was also a treat to catch Mug, Misgivings and Werecats, all of whom are consistently great. In short, the standard was held extremely high for over ten hours of fast-punk frivolity. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017”

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

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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”

Stand Out Riot: Reunions, Releases and Rumours [Interview]

“We might be older and slower than we used to be, but that won’t stop us having the most fun.”

Interview by Sarah Williams.

In a year that’s been blessed with exciting ska-punk reunions, Stand Out Riot are the latest to bring us exciting news. It’s been four years since the Manchester/New Mills sextet have played together regularly, but they’re joining forces once again to release their 2007 album The Gentleman Bandits on vinyl for the first time.

The Gentleman Bandits is a stomping, brassy riot of fast ska-punk – good luck standing still when you get this on your turntable for the first time! Stand Out Riot take cues from bands like Streetlight Manifesto in their more complex composition, incorporating heavier hardcore sections and party-folk elements that are reminiscent of Gogol Bordello. Announced last week, the record is now available from TNS Records, in a gorgeous translucent blue and yellow splatter. If, like me, you want to expand your unnecessarily large collection of merch from defunct ska punk bands, you can also order a new t-shirt while you’re at it.

They’re also getting together for a one-off reunion show, headlining Anarchistic Undertones’ New Year’s Eve shindig at Gullivers in Manchester, accompanied by the likes of Revenge of The Psychotronic Man, Riggots, Wadeye, Habits and The Mighty Bossmags. On top of there there are rumours of more appearances next year, although nothing’s announced at the moment. Very exciting times indeed.

Sarah recently jumped at the opportunity to catch up with bassist Will Garland, to find out more about why they’ve chosen to get together now and what else there is to be excited about in future.

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Apart from a oneoff gig at Manchester Punk Festival in 2015, Stand Out Riot havent been together for quite a few years. Whats prompted your return to music?

Yeah, we haven’t had regular gigs since our last European tour back in 2013! Most of all, we really miss playing. It’s strange because we never really said we were going away – there was no farewell gig or last hurrah. The gigs just became less and less frequent because we got busy with our other lives. But now it’s been far too long and we’re very exciting to be playing again.

The band went through some lineup changes over the years. Whos involved in the current incarnation of the band?

We’re back to a classic line up – almost the same as when we recorded The Gentleman Bandits back in 2010. We’ve known each other in one way or another for 25+ years now which is pretty crazy. Ben Streets on Drums, Francis Hunt on vocals and trombone, Hannah Hunt on sax, Tessa Hunt on violin and vocals, Ste Anthony on guitar and vocals. I play bass and do some vocals too.

Whats been keeping you and the rest of the band busy in the years without Stand Out Riot?

We’ve all done a lot of travelling, but also started settling down and getting real jobs. Hannah has gone around the world a few times. Tessa was in France for a year. Francis is in the US right now on tour with the Front Bottoms. I moved to Denmark to be a research scientist; that’s kept me super busy for the past 3 years. A few of us are now teachers. Ste is married and has a baby! Real life is pretty damn time consuming.

At the moment it looks like a temporary gettogether for a few shows. Would you consider a permanent reunion?

We would love to be back playing regularly. For us in the past, we never made the band full time – it was always something we enjoyed doing in between everything else. When we were at school and university it was much easier to do that, but now we have proper jobs and responsibilities it’s very hard to co-ordinate that with all six of us.   Continue reading “Stand Out Riot: Reunions, Releases and Rumours [Interview]”

Beat The Red Light: A Force To Be Reckoned With [Interview]

Pook and Eddie discuss their reunion, moonlighting with The Filaments and the struggle of getting eight people together for band practice.

Article by Sarah Williams. Amusingly old photos by Bev/Hold My Pint Photography.

Once famously described as ‘Slayer meets The Slackers’, Beat The Red Light are a genre-defying collision of metal, punk and ska, probably best likened to Voodoo Glow Skulls or Capdown, if Capdown listened to black metal. Their combination of heavy, overdriven guitars, double-kick intensity and coarsely shouted vocals isn’t too hard to fathom, but the killer difference with this band is the way they use their four-piece brass section like an assault weapon. They flip from bouncy ska sections into hardcore beatdowns before your feet have figured out what’s happening, inspiring absolute chaos in a pit. It is a truly unique sound that’s perhaps a bit niche, but immensely enjoyable for those of us who’ve gotten our heads round it.

Sadly, Beat The Red Light officially disbanded in November 2015. Now, almost exactly two years after the split, they’ve announced that they’ll be reforming for Manchester Punk Festival in 2018: the most ideal reunion imaginable. Having released their album Salt The Lands on Manchester DIY label TNS Records in 2011, crowds in the Rainy City have always given them the best reception, even more so than in their hometown of High Wycombe.

At present, MPF is their only official booking, but rumours abound for more on the horizon! Salt The Lands on vinyl for the first time? Support slots with Lightyear? A mainland Europe tour with Faintest Idea? A Mexican mega-tour? I caught up with singer/trombonist Pook and sharply-dressed saxophonist Eddie O’Toole to dispel a few myths, and to find out why they’re coming back now.

Beat The Red Light have gotten back together! What have you got in store for us?

  • Eddie: I wouldn’t say that we’re ‘back together’. We’re just doing a few shows that we thought it would be fun to do. We’re being very choosy about them. We probably split up because it was so hard to do all the shows we wanted to do….
  • Pook: And to get everyone together for band practice.
  • Ed: Everybody lives in different places and they’ve got kids, so it’s not going to be any easier! It’s going to be very selective.
  • Pook: Hopefully the motivation of us wanting to do these shows should be more than enough for us to try and, um…. have some band practices.

So you haven’t managed to get together for a practice yet?

  • Pook: I don’t think we’ll be practicing until maybe the day before Manchester Punk Fest.
  • Eddie: Can I just note that it is exactly two years to the day since we split up?
  • Pook: It’s weird because we didn’t really have any plans. Andy and Bev from TNS messaged me asking us to do it. At different times when we all got together (which were very few and far between) we’d be like, “Aw, I miss the band.” It just seemed like the right gig. If we were going to do a reunion gig then it would have to be for the right reasons, and what better reason is there than going back to your band’s second home? We never properly did a goodbye gig for Manchester.

No, your last Manchester show was Manchester Punk Festival in 2015.

  • Pook: I actually announced it on stage, “This is going to be our last Manchester gig.”
  • Ed: That was kind of the break up announcement as well.
  • Pook: Half the band members didn’t even know! “Yeah, that was our last Manchester gig.” Deal with it! [Some other band members] were fuming! But I was right. That was our last Manchester gig.

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You played the after party in the Joshua Brooks that year, right?

  • Ed: The aftershow was much more fun [than playing in Sound Control]. It’s always nice to play in a bit more of an intimate space.
  • Pook: There were a lot of lunatics at that gig. I remember there was a lot of body diving, and then some guy got on stage. I thought he was going to go for a stage dive but then he rugby tackled me to the floor and started screaming in my face. I was hitting him with the microphone trying to get him off me. He was off his rocker; he was having a fantastic time. That was a nice hot, sweaty gig.

Continue reading “Beat The Red Light: A Force To Be Reckoned With [Interview]”

Interview with Grand Collapse’s Calvin Sewell

We chat to Welsh thrashcore heavyweights Grand Collapse about their song-writing inspiration, their recent tour and their ideal Sunday.

Interview by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Pay No More Than Photography. Article photos by Alia Thomas.

In recent years Grand Collapse have become one of my favourite bands. Their live performances carry enough force to knock your teeth out; they take seriously fast, intense thrash to new heights.

Although the sheer force of their music is in itself a pleasure, they stand apart from other hardcore bands by adding in classic 80’s metal grooves and fusing it together though sterling musicianship. There’s also a strong political undercurrent in the songs. Listening at home, this might only become clear if you’re reading the lyric sheet, but the band often incorporate it into their live shows by pausing to discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time. Watching Grand Collapse injects fire straight into your veins; there’s a fury and beauty that’s hard not to love. Their album Along The Dew, released on TNS Records earlier this year, is also a stunning demonstration of musical talent and hardcore force.

I was lucky enough to catch up with singer, Calvin Sewell, just before their recent gig at The Smokehouse in Ipswich (check out my review of the show here). For someone fronting a hardcore band, Calvin seems to write with his heart on his sleeve, putting a lot of emotion and care into his words and his approach. I was keen to find out a bit more.

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Welcome to Ipswich! You’ve come a long way – South Wales and Bristol, right?

We’re all from different spots around South Wales but myself and Jon have emigrated to Bristol.

How did Grand Collapse first get started?

Nothing spectacular; we’re all the around the same age, from the same area, and all into fast / heavy music so inevitably you find each other. The other lads had played in several bands like Four Letter Word, Rejected and Threat Manifesto amongst others and we all knew each other vaguely from going to gigs. I wanted to start a band around that time and those three people made sense, so I told each of them that the other two were involved before they had even agreed and on that basis they all said ‘yes’!

Your second album, Along The Dew, was released earlier this year. How have you found the reaction so far?

Pretty decent. We’re stoked with this one. I think we learnt quite a lot whilst making the first record that helped us whilst writing and recording this one. It’s a lot closer to the mark sound wise and stylistically to where we want to be.

You’ve got such a genre-defying sound that I think people struggle to know what other bands to compare you to. What were you listening to when you recorded the album? Are they are any acts that have really inspired you?

Zeke. Rush. Propagandhi. Bane. Def Leppard. Motorhead. Death. Sick of It All. Conflict.

It’s also a lot more polished than your average hardcore band. What was the recording process like?

We work with Lewis Johns at The Ranch in Southampton. It’s a great place to record and Lewis is a fucking wizard. We gave ourselves a bit more time with this one so it was less rushed and we had a better idea of how we wanted to it to sound as a whole record rather than just a collection of songs. It’s a lot more chaotic and aggressive than the first. Continue reading “Interview with Grand Collapse’s Calvin Sewell”

EP Review: Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men – Some Of These People Have Come From Stoke

Tim Loud and Revenge of The Psychotronic Man translate a drunken idea into a beautiful reality.

Review by Sarah Williams.

Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men’s little EP Some of These People Have Come From Stoke is one of those marvellous bits of nonsense that make the DIY punk scene the best place to be.

The EP is a three-song collaboration between Revenge of The Psychotronic Man (famous for delivering ridiculously fast, fun noise) and Tim Loud (famous for fronting long-dead aggro-folks Bootscraper, and for his own antifolk solo material). Whilst on tour in April they drunkenly decided that a joint recording would be a great idea; the result is three quite different tracks, reflecting their individual tastes rather than their normal musical output. It’s a rollicking ride through punk rock mayhem, and it’ll be a great gem to look back on in years to come.

The EP opens with an Alan Partridge quote that explains the title, although it’s also a nod to Tim Loud and (drummer) Big Hands’ Stoke heritage. The first track The Queen is Dead, Long Live The King Singers is pretty classic, catchy anti-establishment punk, talking about knocking people off their pedestals. 

The second track Oh Yeah, Motorcycle is all hair metal, with a huge doom-laden build-up that’s every bit Motorhead. The song descends into some shreddery before returning to the heavy introductory riff, closing on a decrescendo of feedback and distortion. It’s masses of fun to sing-along to the lyrically profound chorus, “Ooooooohh yeeaaah, motorcycle!” although the song’s actually about what wankers motorcyclists can be. This is premium pit-fodder, and I really hope Revenge start playing this one live. 

The third and final track Sensible Party is a return to a fuzzier punk rock format, although it’s still got plenty of rock ‘n’ roll guitar licks. The clear highlights of this song are the brilliant tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “If you’re still here then grab a coffee son, the party has only just begun,” or, “If it’s too busy we’ll find a fucking book and hide.” One almost gets the impression that these guys may not be inclinded to have a ‘sensible’ party as they’re so virtuously proclaiming. This is my new favourite party anthem, and it’s been firmly lodged in my head for over a week. Continue reading “EP Review: Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men – Some Of These People Have Come From Stoke”